Here's Why China Has Increasing Number Of Road-Related Deaths
A report from the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2015 revealed China had more than 104 deaths due to road traffic for every 100,000 motor vehicles, which is considerably high compared with 101 in Southeast Asia and 33 in the United States. Officials and experts said the increasing number of road-related deaths in the country is caused by rapid growth in the numbers of drivers as well as vehicles, and the size of motorways raised safety concerns.
In 2009, China took the spot from the U.S. as the largest automotive market in the world. Although the country accounted for almost 13 percent of the 1.28 billion vehicles in use around the world in 2015, the report from WHO suggested it's also responsible for 20 percent of total road-related deaths worldwide.
China was once again on the spotlight of high traffic fatality rate following the deaths of 15 people in an accident in northwest China's Lanzhou city, and dozens of people were hurt as well, according to the South China Morning Post.
On Sunday, a semi-trailer crashed into 31 vehicles at a toll booth on a 17km downhill section of the Lanzhou-Lintao motorway. The truck driver was identified as Li Feng, he said the brakes of the vehicle didn't work while he was leaving the motorway. The police are continuing the investigation regarding the accident.
The fatalities from last weekend turned the attention the safety of the motorways in China. Over 200 vehicles already lost control on the section of the roadway stretching from a tunnel to the Lanzhou South toll gate since it opened in 2004. The tunnel is sitting in a basin, and it is more than a kilometer higher than downtown Lanzhou.
Zhao Yanlong admitted to the media in 2010 - he was the deputy head of Gansu province's transport department back then - that the toll gate and road had design flaws. But he also said that it was the only location where the toll gate can be built and there's no better place to build it because there's a limitation made by Lanzhou's geographic characteristics.
Although there are improvements on the road, severe accidents continue to happen there. Professor Shao Chunfu, who is from Beijing Jiaotong University's School of Traffic and Transportation, suggested authorities to ban large vehicles from the motorway or order them to change their routes. Through this, accidents could be avoided since big trucks or buses are more likely to have brake failures than small vehicles, considering the fact that large vehicles need to repeat braking on such roads.
Shao also said the increasing number of vehicles in China contributes to the road-related deaths in the country. He noted there are three factors why road accidents happen - the road, the vehicle, and the driver. As these three continue to rapidly increase, safety issues continue to raise as well.
He further added that the majority of drivers in China aren't prepared for driving on challenging stretches of road and they lack sufficient awareness of the possibility of accidents. The data from the Ministry of Transport revealed that new drivers in China increased by approximately 25 million each year from 2012 to 2017.