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June 27, 2011

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Bad behavior affecting city road safety

DRIVERS and pedestrians must behave better if the city is to improve road safety, traffic authorities have said.

But officials also admitted they can help this process by introducing improvements to traffic lights and road signs.

This comes as more than 70 percent of people taking part in a Shanghai Daily survey said "bad driving habits and jaywalking" are the biggest threat to public safety.

Readers highlighted the threat of fires in high-rise buildings and crowded subways as other concerns.

"The good manners displayed during last year's World Expo should be kept," said Zhu Weiming, deputy director of the city police department, at a recent traffic safety conference.

However, Zhu added that traffic control measures need improving.

During the first quarter of this year, 196 people died and 337 were injured in 393 accidents - all down on last year.

In total, 1,011 people died in road accidents in Shanghai last year, a 23 percent decrease on 2009.

But the death toll is still high compared with other big cities around the world, said police.

Experts and local residents alike have said crossings and traffic lights require improvements.

Crossings should be located further away from intersections so that vehicles turning right have plenty of time to avoid pedestrians, said Liu Zhinan, a statistics expert.

Pedestrians also complained of having to wait too long at some crossings. On the intersection of Nanjing Road W. and Shaanxi Road N., pedestrians must wait two minutes for the green light.

"The waiting time is too long, especially when I'm rushing to the office in the morning," said Yu Qian, a white-collar worker.

Police said they have added or improved more than 1,500 signs at 11 locations with particularly heavy traffic.

Cui Zhengzuo, a 70-year-old retired engineer, said on an online platform that collects public views on road safety that local seniors are barely able to cross roads now.

"Cars never stop to let pedestrians go first, while motorcycle riders simply turn a blind eye to both pedestrians and other vehicles, Cui said.

Lin Cuibao, a lawyer from Guangdong Province, said Hangzhou in Zhejiang Province provides a good model for Shanghai's traffic authority.

Hangzhou launched a campaign this year asking drivers to give pedestrians right of way, a move popular with residents and tourists.


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