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January 15, 2010

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By voices and lights, big trucks to get safer

CITY authorities plan to install vocal alarms and additional signal lights on construction vehicles to help halt the increase in truck-related accidents.

They also plan to sideline truck companies if their drivers are involved in more than one fatal collision.

The technological improvements are likely to be applied to nearly 6,000 registered trucks citywide, local transport authorities said yesterday.

But it will take time.

"Hopefully, the improvements will make a change," said Ma Yun'an, director of Shanghai Greenery and Public Sanitation Bureau, who is also a deputy director of Shanghai Communication, Transport and Port Administration Bureau.

"How and when to do it are still under discussion."

The behemoths remain a threat to smaller vehicles and pedestrians, though the city government has beefed up inspections and tightened punishments, such as revoking truck company licenses.

Construction vehicles, cement mixers and earth-moving trucks, have been involved in two deaths this year. The death toll surpassed 25 last year.

Most of the fatal accidents took place when vehicles made a turn, crashing into bikes or mopeds riding alongside, said Ma.

The new equipment will alert riders and passersby before the vehicles make a turn. The voice system - in which a recorded voice will blare "Truck turning right" or "Truck turning left" - is expected to work during the daytime; the lights at night.

Officials said they also plan to work on other problems, such as the trucks' blind area, which is usually bigger and higher than most cars'.

Two accidents

Traffic and transport authorities said yesterday that vehicle companies, which usually shrug off responsibilities for accidents, will be suspended from further operations if their drivers are involved in fatal accidents two times.

In a two-month crackdown since November, authorities have confiscated 650 heavy trucks for speeding, overloading and illegal earth-dumping.

Authorities have spotted "obvious lax supervision," said Huang Guorong, a vehicle management official of Shanghai Communication, Transport and Port Administration Bureau.

Truck companies were found encouraging drivers to take more construction material or wastes to earn more.

If a driver makes one more trip a day, he will gain up to 30 yuan (US$4.40). The truck companies will earn much more, at least 200 yuan from each trip, by some estimates.


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