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January 5, 2013

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5 motorists lose licenses under new rules

FIVE motorists had their driving licenses revoked yesterday in Shanghai as stricter traffic regulations came into effect.

The five motorists were caught driving without a license plate or an obscured plate number.

Under the new rules, each motorist has 12 demerit points. If they are all deducted, the motorist must return to driving school and retake tests to get another driver's license.

The penalty for motorists with no license plate or an unclear plate number has risen from six demerit points to 12 under the new regulations.

Traffic police said they noticed a decline in road accidents after the new regulations took effect on Tuesday.

From Tuesday to Thursday, there were 1,993 traffic accidents in the city, down 1.1 percent from the same period of last year, police said yesterday.

Motorists face tougher penalties this year under new rules targeting speeding, drunk driving and running lights.

According to the new rules, 52 different violations can result in penalties, up from 38 under the previous regulation.

Despite the tougher penalties, some motorists were still not complying.

Police stopped a vehicle with a severely damaged license plate yesterday morning on an elevated ramp in Yangpu District. Officers said they could not read the plate number.

Police said the motorist, surnamed Xu, had an accident in 2008 that damaged the plate.

Xu's license was revoked after the 12 demerit points were deducted.

"Drivers need to pay attention to their vehicle plates," police said.

Some of the new rules have raised a heated debate as some motorists say they are "unreasonable."

The most controversial by far is the new rule on yellow traffic lights. According to the rule, vehicles that have passed the stop line on the road when the light turns yellow can continue through the intersection. All other motorists are expected to stop. Violators will be fined 20 yuan (US$3.21) to 200 yuan and have six points deducted.

Some motorists have said this is almost impossible in practice and may lead to more accidents as drivers stop too suddenly because of a yellow light.

Traffic authorities countered by saying that if drivers slow down before they reach an intersection and keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front of them then there would be no danger.

Local traffic police said no yellow light violations have been reported since the rule took effect.

Wen Guowei, an expert of urban traffic planning and a professor at Tsinghua University, has challenged the yellow traffic light rule and suggested traffic police install traffic lights that count down how long the light will remain red, green or yellow.

Such traffic lights already exist at some intersections.


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