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February 26, 2011

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Out-of-town plates targeted

APPROACHING a ramp onto an elevated road in downtown Jing'an District about 7:20am yesterday, a car slowed down and stopped alongside.

The driver, whose vehicle had license plates from neighboring Jiangsu Province, hesitated for a few minutes before rejoining the traffic flow and heading onto the highway.

Other motorists with out-of-town plates faced the same dilemma: whether to take their chances on the first day of a crackdown on vehicles registered in other provinces. Some motorists went as far as removing their plates or covering them up.

Cameras have been installed at 62 locations to enforce a ban on out-of-town vehicles on local elevated roads on weekday peak times between 7:30am and 9:30am in the morning and 4:30pm and 6:30pm in the evening. It is hoped this will ease congestion.

Drivers violating the restrictions or covering or removing plates face a fine of 200 yuan (US$30).

Traffic police said fewer vehicles with out-of-town plates were seen on elevated roads yesterday and that "congestion lessened."

However, officers could not provide a figure for the number of vehicles caught as the information in the cameras had not yet been processed.

The license plate numbers of motorists caught breaking the law will be published online and those who ignore fines will be stopped at expressway checkpoints, said police.

While some motorists took their chances, others said they would rather abide by the rules. One driver, surnamed Yao, said he would now "choose other roads more often."

The crackdown has helped push up the cost of local car plates, as in a recent auction prices reached more than 40,000 yuan.

However, some people fear the higher prices will force more local buyers to choose much cheaper out-of-town plates - leading to more cars and more congestion.

"Rather than spending 40,000 yuan on a Shanghai plate, I could break the rule 200 times instead," one driver joked in an online post.


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