Growing road traffic leaves China’s drivers seeing red

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Road rage incidents are on the rise in China as increasing prosperity has boosted cars and congestion, a news report said Wednesday.

More than 17 million cases of road rage were recorded by police this year so far, up 2.8 per cent on the same period last year, a Xinhua report said.

Accidents linked to rising tempers are also increasing, it said.

The number of cars on China’s roads has grown by 15 million each year for the past decade.

In 2013, 80,200 accidents were attributed to anger behind the wheel, a 4.9-percent year-on-year increase. In 2014, the number rose again by 2.4 per cent in 2014, according the official Xinhua news agency.

At least 200,000 people now die in China from traffic collision-related accidents every year, according to the World Health Organization.

In May, a video showing a male driver savagely beating a female driver after she made a dangerous lane change prompted public outrage.

The public was also angered after reports that a driver in the north-eastern province of Heilongjiang intentionally forced an ambulance to pull over several times, Xinhua reported, without giving details of the driver’s motivation.

One Danish expat said the local road culture makes assertive driving a necessity, admitting he often changes lanes abruptly, turns while pedestrians are crossing and honks his horn or yells at slower drivers.

“If I follow all the rules, I’ll never get anywhere,” said the entrepreneur, who has lived in Beijing for six years and driven in the city for three.

Wednesday was declared National Traffic Safety Day as part of an ongoing campaign by the Ministry of Public Security to educate drivers about better road etiquette.

The ministry also warned the country’s 322 million drivers about “distracted driving,” such as while talking on the phone or to passengers, which it said caused 21,570 deaths in 2014.

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