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Roadway safety in China : a global comparison Qi, Jinsong

Abstract

In this paper, China's roadway traffic safety, as well as its socio-economic background and the traffic characteristics is reviewed and its statistics from various sources as well as those of a few other nations are analyzed. Compared with the largest population countries in the world, the number of accident fatalities in China is the highest. Accident patterns were analyzed and their characteristics were found to differ significantly from those expected in North America. The accident characteristics in China are: high proportions are bicycle-related accidents; more severe accidents are in suburban areas; most accidents happen on road sections away from intersections, especially at gates of major trip-attraction unit compounds; and most casualties are peasants. Accident causes were examined and the analysis revealed that drivers were responsible for most accidents and cyclists caused the second largest number of accidents. Violating traffic laws and regulations by both drivers and cyclists caused the majority of accidents. The analysis of accident trends in recent years indicates that the reduced rate of economic development may have caused a temporary drop in accident rates. Once the normal rate of development returns, China may have another increase of accidents unless further effective countermeasures are adopted. A model of roadway accident rates that extends the ideas of Trinca et al's study is presented in this paper. The stages of countries' development are connected with the rates of Traffic Safety (deaths per 10,000 motor vehicles), Personal Safety (deaths per 100,000 people) and Motorisation (number of registered motor vehicles per 1,000 people). The model assumes that a relationship exists between T, Traffic Safety; P, Population Safety; and M, Motorisation such that when vehicles are first introduced, motorisation is low, as is the population based death rate but Traffic Safety, measured by a vehicle based death rate, is high. The other extreme of the model is complete motorisation under which condition there is a decreasing, but fairly high, population based death rate and a low, and decreasing vehicle based death rate. Between these two extremes is a relationship that can be drawn from the data that distinguished developing from developed countries. The mechanism of the relationship is beyond the scope of the present study. China is starting to implement traffic safety countermeasures. Some of the existing countermeasures are reviewed and suggestions for possible new countermeasures are discussed. Based on the accident analysis, countermeasures should deal with: violations of traffic laws and regulations, improvement of the roadway and traffic management, and improvement of safety of bicycles. Any successful countermeasures taken from other countries must reflect the unique traffic situation of China.

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