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UPDATED: January 14, 2013 NO. 3 JANUARY 17, 2013
The Yellow Light Offensive


A revised traffic regulation, seen as the harshest ever by many, took effect on January 1. Accordingly, drivers who run yellow lights will have six points deducted from the 12 allocated on their licenses. Those who have any part of their vehicles crossing the line at the time of change will not be punished.

The Ministry of Public Security said that while the yellow light acts as a traffic buffer, many motorists deem it a "prompt for acceleration." A number of traffic accidents were caused by running yellow lights.

The new regulation has caused controversy and complaint among the public. Some argue yellow lights will lose their original function as warning signals if running them carries the same penalty as that for ignoring red lights.

Meanwhile, the ministry, which drew up the new law, claims that if drivers focus on the road, maintain a safe distance from other vehicles and slow down when approaching traffic signals, they could avoid rear-end collisions and running yellow lights. The following are excerpts of some opinions:


Guo Yuanpeng (www.rednet.cn): It's unreasonable to treat running a yellow light the same as ignoring a red. Yellow lights warn cars and pedestrians to clear crossings during the transition between green and red. Vehicles that have passed the line can continue while those behind must stop when the light turns yellow.

However, the new regulation stipulates that running a yellow light equals doing so for red, which makes the former useless. Suppose a car is only 0.5 meters behind the line when signals switch, who can stop? Sudden braking might incur bigger danger. Since offence will cost six points, there is no need to retain yellow lights.

Wang Junrong (The Beijing News): According to China's traffic regulations, a red light indicates stopping while a yellow warns drivers to slow down. Is it proper for both signals to be treated the same?

Severe punishment will make roads safer for cars and pedestrians, but won't solve the overall problem. In addition, authorities in several cities are having trouble enforcing the new regulation due to relatively outdated equipment and extreme weather conditions.

On January 1, the traffic management department in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, said drivers who run yellow lights will not be punished until traffic lights are fitted with detection systems. The timing of traffic signals will also be considered before enforcing penalties. Similar measures have been taken in Jinan, capital of Shandong Province, where running yellow lights will not be made punishable due to the difficulty of providing evidence.

Road safety can't be achieved by depending on severe punishment alone. In a call for more effective laws, some netizens have suggested installing signal countdown devices to assist drivers in judging how much time they have to cross traffic intersections.

I agree that offenders be punished, but is it necessary to knock off six points? It's the same as running a red light. Perhaps the new law could be made lighter.

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