Drivers say rules on yellow lights unfair

Updated: 2013-01-05 00:47

By XU WEI (China Daily)

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Traffic management authorities have pledged to upgrade traffic signals after motorists protested the new, harsher penalties for running yellow lights.

The pace of signal upgrading will quicken, the traffic management bureau under the Ministry of Public Security said in a statement on Thursday.

New traffic regulations that took effect on Jan 1 stipulate that drivers who run a yellow light will have six points deducted from the 12 allocated points on their licenses.

The new regulations, branded China's harshest traffic rules ever by many online observers, caused an outcry among motorists, as many traffic lights do not have countdown timers, which show drivers how long they have before the lights change from green to yellow.

According to the new regulations, drivers who have any part of their vehicles across the stop line when a light turns yellow will not be punished, but vehicles that are behind the stop line will not be allowed to cross.

Jiang Mingsheng, a taxi driver in Beijing who has 33 years' driving experience, said the regulations have put him under pressure when he drives past road crossings, as many traffic lights in Beijing do not have countdown timers.

"I ran a yellow light the other day. I was meters away from the stop line and the lights suddenly turned yellow. I was almost in the middle of the road after I put my brakes on and stopped the vehicle," he said.

"I don't think anyone would be able to stop the vehicle in that case," he said.

At traats without the timers, if a driver were to suddenly stop his vehicle as the lights turned from green to yellow, he would probably be rear-ended by the vehicle following him, he said.

"Traffic regulations should ensure smooth traffic flow. It seems to me the work rate at road crossings is being reduced," he said.

Meanwhile, authorities in several cities are having problems enforcing the new regulations because of relatively outdated equipment and extreme weather conditions.

On Jan 1, traffic management authorities in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, announced on their official micro blog that drivers who run yellow lights will not be punished for now because the city's traffic light system does not have devices that detect such drivers.

The authorities also announced they will start checking the timing of traffic lights before enforcing penalties for running yellow lights.

Similar measures were also taken in Jinan, capital of Shandong province, as authorities announced that running yellow lights will not be punished there because of the difficulty in proving the case, the Jinan Times reported on Thursday.

Traffic management authorities in Harbin, capital of Heilongjiang province, also announced on Friday that drivers running yellow lights will not be punished, as the snowy weather in the city has made braking difficult.

The authorities said the penalties for running yellow lights will be enforced after the weather gets warmer and road conditions improve.

Meanwhile, many other violations under the new regulations, not just those pertaining to yellow lights, have caught drivers off guard.

Under the new traffic regulations, 52 violations can result in punishment, up from 38.

In Zhengzhou, capital of Henan province, 86 drivers had all 12 points deducted from their licenses. Some of those drivers were found to have covered up or blurred their license plates, the Zhengzhou-based Dahe Daily reported.

Traffic police in Yangpu district, Shanghai, found five drivers within an hour who had covered up their license plates, local media reported.

Regulations stipulate that drivers who have all 12 points deducted from their licenses must retake driving lessons and tests before they can drive again.