Chinese drivers question new traffic rule

Updated: 2013-01-06 16:27


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BEIJING - Chinese drivers are complaining about a new regulation that increases penalties for running yellow lights, with some doubting the new rule's legality.

Netizens have claimed that the rule runs contrary to the laws of physics, as drivers who are operating their vehicles at normal speeds cannot bring their vehicles to a full stop within seconds of seeing a yellow light.

Vehicles must come to a complete stop at yellow lights unless part of the vehicle's body has already crossed the line, according to a revised regulation from the Ministry of Public Security that took effect on New Year's Day.

In an online poll hosted by Sina Weibo, a major microblogging site, opponents of the regulation outnumbered supporters by almost 5 to 1, with over 40,000 people responding to the poll.

"The three lights serve their purposes respectively in accordance with the law. Treating a yellow light the same as a red one is unreasonable and could be legally contradictory," said Li Wei, chief lawyer at the Beijing Fada Law Office.

Yellow lights in China flash for just a few seconds before turning red, making it difficult to bring vehicles to a full stop in time. In addition, few intersections have visible countdown timers, making it even more difficult for drivers to figure out how much time they have to stop.

"There are so many intersections that do not have countdown screens to help drivers time their stop," said Wang Cheng, a law professor at Peking University.

Other experts have centered their opposition on the origin and legality of the revision.

Wu Bihu, another professor at Peking University, has filed a request for the details surrounding the revision at the Ministry of Public Security.

Sun Xiaoxia, a law professor at Fudan University, said the revision seemed to have come out of thin air, as there was no prior notice given to the public.

"The change is having a huge impact on citizens' rights and obligations. Why haven't there been any public hearings or efforts to seek opinions from relevant parties?" Sun said.

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