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Illegally Occupying Emergency Lanes Common in China
   2015-10-14 20:22:45    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Wang

The screen shot shows a driver of an off roaders has occupied the emergency lanes for 23 times since March, 2015 in the city of Shenzhen, Guangdong Province. [Photo: weibo.com]  

The massive traffic jams seen in China through this year's National Day holiday has once-again put the spotlight on people's driving habits across the country.

As CRI's Wang Mengzhen reports, the discussion this time is centered around what can be done to keep people from driving on the emergency lanes.

 

On the first day of this year's National Day holiday, a person died after being involved in a traffic accident in Zhejiang.

Reports are suggesting the driver of the vehicle may have survived if rescue vehicles could have made it to the scene earlier.

However, they couldn't because the emergency lanes on the highway were blocked by other drivers.

Driving on the medians, which are the emergency lanes in China, is illegal.

However, it is a common practice, as drivers use the lanes to skirt through traffic.

"I do not usually drive in the emergency lane. But just now, I saw several vehicles move toward the lane, and I was just following their path."

"Since I can drive faster in the emergency lane, I will just join in with the other cars."

Its these kind of driving habits which are generating new debate about how to deal with drivers who knowingly break the law.

This week in Shenzhen, traffic authorities slapped a 69-thousand yuan fine on a woman who has been caught driving on the emergency lanes in the city 23 times since March.

The equivalent of over 10-thousand US dollars is the largest traffic fine of its kind ever handed down in China.

Beijing-based legal expert Yue Shenshan suggests this type of fine may be what's needed in China to get people to follow the rules of the road.

"At first blush, you might think the punishment is too harsh. But when you step back and think about it, the fine is based multiple illegal acts. It is in-line with the current traffic laws and Shenzhen's traffic regulations."

Over 60-thousand tickets were handed out across China during the 7-day National Day holiday for drivers caught occupying the emergency lanes.

Yue Shenshan says it's this level of blatant rule-breaking by drivers in China that is spurring the call to action.

But he says there are a couple of things which still prompt people to take their chances and break the law.

"Right now the law enforcement just isn't strong enough. Most drivers who break the rules will go unpunished. Authorities need to step up traffic law enforcement. They also need to find a way to encouraging people to be whistle-blowers, and call-in illegal behavior. The other problem is the fines themselves. Right now, drivers caught occupying the emergency lanes will only be hit with fines of a few hundred yuan, which many drivers in China can easily afford."

Drivers in China who are caught in the emergency lanes will be hit with 6 points on their license.

Anyone who racks-up 12 points on their license in a year will have their license suspended.

They will also have to go through the driving tests again to get their license back.

For CRI, I am Wang Mengzhen.


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