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June 30, 2011

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Mopeds cited as safety risk on roads

MOPEDS have become a major risk to road safety with more than 20 percent of traffic accidents in recent years involving the two-wheeler, local legislators said yesterday.

Compared with other big metropolises around the world, the city's road accident toll in recent years has also remained alarmingly high, according to local legislators who are seeking solutions to improve the current traffic regulation and law enforcement for better road safety.

Traffic police told the legislators that more than 20 percent of vehicle crashes and single accidents on local streets involve mopeds.

There are millions of electric or gas-powered mopeds running on local streets while the number of motorbikes has gradually diminished after local government started to restrict access to them and stopped issuing new license plates.

Traffic police said compared to bicycles, mopeds are much speedier, a primary reason why they are involved in serious crashes with other vehicles or pedestrians.

By end of last year, there were nearly 1.7 million locally registered cars in Shanghai while the number of bikes and mopeds combined added up to 13.6 million, according to the local statistics bureau.

Police said they believed there were still a massive number of unlicensed mopeds in the city. Despite warning from police, bikers still pay agents to have their vehicles modified to break the speed limit or revamp the mopeds themselves. Such vehicles would not pass license application but due to limited law enforcement force, they are still running on roads.

Police didn't provide a breakdown of the road toll involving mopeds but said 1,011 people were killed in local traffic accidents last year compared to 1,042 in 2009 and 1,100 in 2008.

Legislators said although the death toll has been declining over the years, the number was still alarming when compared to general accident tolls in big cities overseas.

Meanwhile, many locals complain that drivers lack basic driving courtesy and show little concern for the safety of cyclists and pedestrians.


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