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October 16, 2012

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Five killed as car plows into road workers

FIVE road maintenance workers were killed and three others injured when they were mowed down by an out-of-control car on an expressway section in Shanghai yesterday, city officials said.

The injured are being treated at a hospital on Chongming Island, according to police.

The driver, an 18-year-old man surnamed Mao, just got his driving license three months ago, police said, adding that he is now under custody.

The incident happened about 11:14am on the Chongming-Qidong Bridge leading to downtown, a section of the Shanghai-Shaanxi expressway, when a car broke through the road barriers in the middle of the road and knocked down the workers doing their job, road officials said.

The driver told police he lost control of the car when he tried to pick up his spectacles and momentarily lost concentration.

Surveillance camera footage showed the workers, wearing bright orange uniform, lying on the road with parts of the vehicle scattered on the damaged greenery.

Wang Rong, a spokesman with the city road maintenance company, said the injured suffered severe injuries.

The traffic was affected on the expressway as police cordoned off part of the road lanes.

The accident once again brought into focus rookie-related reckless driving, raising concern both in cyberspace and off it.

According to a revised traffic regulation, rookie drivers with less than one year's driving experience should be accompanied by senior drivers, who have more than three years' experience, when they drive on expressways.

The regulation will be enforced next year.

About 20 million new drivers get licenses every year in China, police revealed, with more than 186 million people in China now having driving licenses for cars.

If motorcycle drivers are included, a total of 247 million people in China boast driving licenses. Among these, nearly 11 percent, or about 27 million, have less than one year's driving experience, police said.

The rookies have been criticized largely for dangerous and reckless driving, which often leads to accidents.

"This accident just shows the urgency of the new regulation," was one comment online.

"The tightening of regulations pertaining to traffic violators, greenhorns, school bus and large passenger bus drivers is good for public safety," said Xu Dinggang, a local driver.


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