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Beijing's taxi drivers should buckle up

10-26-2011 10:02 BJT

After a taxi driver died and his passenger was seriously injured, concerns have been raised over slack enforcement of the seat belt law, particularly for cab drivers and their passengers.

A taxi crashed into a truck carrying sand on Xinxing Bridge, Haidian district last Wednesday. The cabbie was killed at the scene, and his female passenger, surnamed Li, was thrown from the back to the front seat, fracturing her jaw, and causing an internal bleed in her brain, the Beijing Evening News reported.

"I wasn't aware of the seat belt in the back seat, as I thought it was safer sitting in the back," frequent taxi passenger Li Jie told the Global Times Tuesday.

She said it is unnecessary to buckle up for a short journey, especially in Beijing's slow traffic.

"It's already a habit to neglect the seat belt," she said, adding she was worried the seat belt would be dirty.

Taxi driver Li Yumin said that he had seldom seen a passenger buckle up. He trusted his own skills after driving cars for 30 years, so the belts had been removed from his cab, he said.

Some drivers feel surprised when they see the passengers use the seat belts, and the belts are often hidden by the seat covers as they are seldom used, the Beijing Evening News reported.

"The seat cover doesn't affect the seat belt," said an employee surnamed Liu from Yuyang Taxi Company.

Liu told the Global Times that the cabbies' team leader regularly tells the drivers at meetings to remind passengers to buckle up their seat belts.

Beijing traffic police had launched two previous campaigns to encourage drivers and passengers to fasten their seat belts in 2006 and 2008.

Police found 40 drivers or passengers not wearing seat belts within one hour on August 22, 2006, and half of them were taxis, the Beijing Daily reported.

The Road Traffic Safety Law of China, which took effect in May 2008, states that drivers, including cabbies, will be fined 50 yuan ($7.85) and their passengers 20 yuan if they do not wear seat belts, although fines are rarely, if ever, enforced.

In Beijing, 194 people were killed in traffic accidents during the first three months of 2011.

Editor:Zhang Jianfeng |Source: Global Times

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