China cracks down on jaywalkers

Traffic wardens are targeting those on foot

In China’s densely populated cities, it’s not uncommon to see cars driving on the wrong side of the street, barrelling down bike lanes or even parked on the sidewalks. In the last two decades, as the number of motorists has grown astronomically, Chinese roads have become a Wild West of traffic violations. In 2011, nearly 70,000 people were killed in traffic accidents, and tens of thousands more were injured. But last month, traffic wardens began fining some of China’s most prevalent lawbreakers: pedestrians.

While some have lauded the government for enforcing any traffic laws at all—speed limits and red lights are routinely ignored—critics say targeting pedestrians is ineffective and unfair.

“Chinese drivers don’t stop at traffic lights, so either you jaywalk or you don’t cross the street,” says Tyler Ehler, a Canadian student living in Nanjing. The problem, says Ehler, is the driving class has simply grown too large, too fast—“teenagers are learning to drive at the same time as their parents.” A country full of new drivers, he says, is bound to have its share of traffic accidents.

While some dismiss traffic accidents as mere growing pains, others question whether China’s thousands of road fatalities are an inevitable consequence of its rise.




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China cracks down on jaywalkers

  1. They did this five years ago. It didn’t work. You need to understand that when China comes up with a new traffic law, they send the police out to do it for (maximum) a month, then they stop. So, this is a completely non story. Chinese police are incapable of enforcing the law. And I don’t think there’s any argument there.

    The fact that 99% of the police drive around the city with the red and blue lights flashing 24 hours a day shows how incompetent the police are here.

    Anyways, drunk driving, jaywalking, honking, talking on cell phones, speeding, not stopping for crosswalks… these have all been headline news traffic laws that have been passed in the last ten years. Hasn’t made any difference. Chinese traffic laws are so vague, not followed, and negotiated that there really isn’t any rule for the road.

    Just two months ago I was waiting for the light to turn green at a Shanghai intersection. The pedestrian light was red as the cars had a left turn green. An old man and a baby in a stroller decided to go for it. It was night time, and they were moving fast. The man ran right in front of a taxi turning left. He didn’t get hit, but the baby certainly did.

    I called the police and ambulance. When the police arrived, I told them what happened. Right then and there, the police made the taxi driver pay the man, who had (for whatever reason) not gone to the hospital with the baby. The driver paid the man cash, and was on his way. I said to the police, “The taxi was following the law, the man wasn’t.” I was told that I knew nothing about Chinese law and that the taxi hit the baby, the taxi has money, the taxi must pay.

    Chinese traffic law… the only way to fix it is to continuously train the police department in the law, and make sure they enforce it. Personally, I’d just as soon fire the whole lot of them and start over again. The police in China make Keystone Cops look like Columbo.

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