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December 15, 2012

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Police punish 350,000 jaywalkers this year

SHANGHAI traffic police have punished 350,000 cases of pedestrian jaywalking this year with fines of 5 yuan (80 US cents) to 50 yuan, they said yesterday.

Police said they would continue to crack down on the pedestrian-related traffic violations, including crossing on a red walk signal.

"Ignoring (pedestrian) traffic lights is not only a key reason leading to traffic accidents but affects commuting efficiency," a traffic official said.

There have been more than 200 crashes involving pedestrians that have killed 56 people as a result of ignoring traffic signals in Shanghai this year, traffic police said.

Of those, 32 deaths involved cars and larger vehicles and pedestrians, and 24 deaths involved smaller vehicles like mopeds and scooters as well as pedestrians, police said.

The violations of pedestrian traffic signals has become so common that a new phrase, "collectively walking the red light," has been coined for it.

People often ignore pedestrian signals and jaywalk in a group as soon as the road clears a little.

Some locals complain that downtown pedestrian red light signals last too long - it can take more than two minutes before getting a signal to cross. But recent studies have found that an average person's patience waiting for a red signal to change runs out after about 90 seconds.

Traffic police have said they would make some of the longer red signals shorter.

Police also are making penalties tougher on vehicles running red lights - drivers will have six demerit points deducted, up from three points, starting next year.

Each driver has 12 points and licenses are suspended once all the points are deducted.

More than 400 sets of surveillance cameras have been added to catch traffic signal violators.


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