Time to implement stronger traffic safety rules

By Xu Hailin Source:Global Times Published: 2019/5/23 20:53:40

Illustration: Peter C. Espina/GT

I pay special attention to what shoes to wear before getting inside my car, particularly when I was still a novice driver. If I am using shoes with relatively thick soles to drive I would be very nervous, because I couldn't help feel like: Gosh, I cannot feel the paddles!

I guess many people have had a similar experience, but many of them might also think they can handle it if they get used to that feeling.

WHO's infographics on road safety facts show that road crashes take 1.25 million lives a year, leaving an additional 20 to 50 million people injured or disabled. There are many reasons for these tragedies: driver negligence and overconfidence are among them. 

On Tuesday, a car waiting for the traffic lights to change at a packed intersection in Guangzhou, South China's Guangdong Province, suddenly pulled away straight into pedestrians, injuring 13 people and collided with two other cars, before it finally came to a stop. 

The tragedy happened as the driver surnamed Ding improperly operated the car when she was trying to get her water bottle from the back seat, she told police. More details have yet to be released. A viral photo of Ding showed her stepping out of her car wearing a pair of platform shoes, which were allegedly the reason for the accident. 

If you google "platform shoes/high heels" and "car accident" you will find this was not the only case. However, surprisingly, even if some people know it is not safe to wear heels while driving, they still do so. 

In a survey of 70 female drivers conducted in Shenyang, Northeast China's Liaoning Province, 52 of them often wore high heels. Some believed they didn't need to change their shoes as they felt skillful enough to steer a car. 

Some people never learn until it's too late. Therefore, to prevent tragedies from happening, the government should step in to change people's mind-set.

The Japanese government set an example. It banned drivers from wearing platform shoes in 2000 after a fatal accident allegedly caused by a young female driver who was unable to brake because of her skyscraper soles. In January 2019, the ban covered other shoes that can affect driving, such as slip-ons, high heels and Japanese clogs. 

In China, although a handful of local governments have launched traffic regulations that forbid driving in heels and thick soles, there is no national law that supports such a ban. Because of this, some law enforcement officers can only warn, or fine, the drivers they find driving in improper shoes, which doesn't help prevent car accidents. Local regulations state that those found driving in improper shoes can only be fined as much as 100 yuan ($14). 

It has been eight years since the latest amendment to China's Law on Road Traffic Safety. If it is not a simple work to amend a law, at least, we hope national regulations are implemented to help protect traffic safety. 

The author is a reporter with the Global Times. xuhailin@globaltimes.com.cn

Posted in: VIEWPOINT

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