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December 3, 2009

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Checks find many trucks overloaded

NEARLY 60 percent of construction vehicles were overloaded or speeding during a check on Tuesday night in three downtown districts, traffic police said yesterday.

Police also visited some construction sites yesterday morning in an effort to rein in trucks that weigh too much and drive too fast - a dangerous mix.

Accidents involving construction trucks have been responsible for 12 deaths since November 17.

The latest was on Monday, when three people in a taxi were crushed by a cement mixer. The driver was detained for allegedly tripling the legal limit the truck can carry.

"The picture is really worrying," said a traffic-police spokesman.

More than 100 vehicles were subject to spot checks in Zhabei, Hongkou and Putuo districts; 61 drivers were fined or had their trucks held by the police.

Officers even found some truck drivers alerting their fellows through walkie-talkies to change the routes to avoid the check.

At the intersection of Putuo's Zhenbei Road and Taopu Road by 9pm, officers stopped a truck driver, surnamed Lin, when spotting him using a walkie-talkie.

Lin overloaded the truck carrying earth by up to 50 percent and tried to tip off trucks behind him, said the police.

Lin was fined 500 yuan (US$73) and the truck was confiscated.

With construction work in overdrive in preparation for the 2010 Shanghai World Expo, police said the checks will continue.

They called for construction authorities to tighten their supervision, a plea echoed by residents and lawmakers.

However, speeding and overloading might be key to drivers' pay.

Drivers can earn more if they carry more construction materials or wastes each day, officers said.

"If I can carry 30 percent more, I will make 300 yuan more," said a truck driver who asked not to be named.

Construction companies are usually shielded from responsibility because the drivers are often contract workers, police said. No company manager was reported held in the fatal accidents so far since November 17.

"The construction company heads should also be accounted for their drivers' reckless driving," said Li Ming, a member of Shanghai People's Congress, according to Oriental Morning Post.


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