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March 3, 2012

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Authorities plan to run souped-up mopeds off road

SOUPED-UP scooters and mopeds are being targeted by Shanghai traffic authorities.

Traffic police and industry officials confiscated more than 10 illegally customized electric mopeds in recent raids in Putuo District and suspended sales in 16 unlicensed shops.

Officials say the increasing number of souped-up scooters is hampering efforts to reduce accidents.

Souped-up scooters and mopeds are heavier and more powerful, making them more dangerous, said officials.

The death toll in city accidents involving mopeds and scooters has remained high in recent years.

Last year, 237 people were killed in accidents involving mopeds, out of a total of 944 road traffic accident fatalities.

Shanghai Vice Mayor Zhang Xuebing said yesterday that "it's relatively hard to eliminate illegal electric mopeds and reckless riding in a short time."

But Zhang said the city must "act quickly and correctly," or the situation will get worse.

The city is currently waging a three-month-long campaign against illegally customized mopeds and scooters.

There are more than 2.7 million registered electric mopeds in Shanghai, with another 158,000 added each year.

However, many more mopeds and scooters - 3 million, according to some estimates - are on the roads without licenses or with ones issued elsewhere, said Guo Jianrong, secretary general of the Shanghai Bicycle Industry Association.

In the recent raids in Putuo, police found mopeds customized to exceed the legal limit of 15 kilometers per hour.

Fines will be imposed on stores found to be selling these vehicles, said officials.

Some souped up scooters with increased battery capacity can achieve speeds of up to 70 kph, according to insiders.

Guo admitted that current regulations, issued more than 10 years ago, are out-of-date.

"Riders nowadays do not have the same attitude toward regulations as people did previously," added Guo.


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