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May 31, 2011

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Driving schools 'look for bribes'

LOCAL driving schools are seeking bribes from learners to help them pass their driving tests, the city's top public security official said.

At some centers, rookies are given answers during tests, even under police supervision, Zhang Xuebing, vice mayor and head of the Shanghai Public Security Bureau, said yesterday.

"Driving schools should be closely monitored to ensure city road safety, but evidently we are not doing enough," said Zhang.

An insider, a former instructor with the Longquan driving school in suburban Jiading District, said trainees were asked to give extra hundreds of yuan to the school if they wanted to cheat during the test.

The instructor secretly recorded videoclips showing a man - believed to be a school manager - telling learners not to worry as answers would be shown on computer screens during their exam.

Often calling the extra money "insurance," the school would also help learners cheat during road tests.

"That's why many motorists in the city are poor at driving, even though they have their licenses," said Zhang, adding that he was angered to hear these reports of cheating.

The city driver training industry association and police said they were investigating the school.

An industry official, surnamed Zhou, said an instructor found to be taking bribes from trainees will be suspended for three years.

But Zhou also said it's almost impossible to cheat during the computer tests which are supervised by traffic authorities.

There are about 2.5 million vehicles - 1 million of which are private cars - registered in the city, while more than 4.6 million residents hold driving licenses.

Zhang said extra training is needed for license holders who seldom drive before they can hit the road again.

There are around 180 legal driving schools in the city.

During the first quarter this year, 196 people died and 337 were injured in 393 traffic accidents in Shanghai, traffic police said. These are down on last year's figures.

Some 1,011 people died in road accidents last year - a 23 percent decrease on 2009.


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