China cause for concern?

A RECENT article in The Lancet has drawn attention to the massive increase in vehicles on the roads of China.

There are 50,000 new vehicles sold in China every day. The accompanying rise in road traffic collisions is giving serious cause for concern. But how accurate is accident reporting data?

Author Ted Alcorn reports that, at best, the Chinese Government’s data for road-traffic fatalities are contradictory, and at worst, they misrepresent the level and trends of road-traffic safety in the country.

Rising incomes and a burgeoning consumer culture in China have created a surge in car ownership unlike anything the world has ever seen. In 1991, there were only 300 000 passenger vehicles in the country; in the succeeding two decades, the number has expanded more than a hundred-fold, and an average of 50 000 vehicles are now sold in China every day. Unsurprisingly, the number of road-traffic accidents has also skyrocketed.

Official data suggest that the Chinese Government is responding effectively to the problem. It enacted several high-profile measures in the past decade, establishing an Inter-Ministerial Road Safety Forum in 2003, passing a Road Traffic Safety Law in 2004, and strengthening restrictions against speeding and drunk driving in recent years. Data compiled by the traffic police of the Ministry of Public Security (MPS), who have formal responsibility for enumerating the fatalities, suggest that the efforts are working. According to their records, fatalities peaked in 2002, and have fallen by an average of 6% yearly ever since. “China’s road-traffic toll down 30% from 2004 to 2009”, ran  the headline of the state-run newspaper People’s Daily in July, 2010.

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dbda is a corporate social responsibility consultancy embracing education and safety in the community. We are privileged to work with a large number of blue chip corporate clients, Government organisations, charitable bodies, Institutes and local authorities. We also have a network of schools, professional bodies, associations, universities and partners, with whom we regularly work in collaboration.

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