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September 24, 2009

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Revealed: dire city statistics on drunk driving

FATAL road accidents in Shanghai last year involving drunk driving were almost double that of the national average, according to a report released yesterday.

About 8.3 percent of fatalities were linked to drunk driving, compared to the national average of 4.16 percent.

A Shanghai-based research team also found 27 percent of people who were involved in accidents caused by drunk driving died in a single local district.

"Preventing and reducing drunk driving is really a long-term mission," said Wang Hongyan, the leader of the research team from Tongji University.

Last year more than 6 percent of traffic accidents in Shanghai were caused by drunk driving, 3.5 percent higher than the average national level, the report said.

In the city's Jiading District, there were 26 fatalities among 97 accidents related to drunk driving studied by the researchers.

A drunk driver who died instantly in a car crash in Jiading on March 4 was not wearing a safety belt.

"One mistake always leads to anther," said a researcher surnamed Shi.

A traffic crash database has been built, with more than 550 cases recorded since early 2006.

City traffic police said yesterday that while fewer people were caught drunk driving as daily checks continued, a disturbing new practice had been uncovered.

To avoid police drunk driving checks, some motorists were swapping their vehicles with taxi drivers and getting back into their own cars after passing checkpoints.

Taxi drivers involved in the car-exchange scam face fines of up to 5,000 yuan (US$732), according to the city's vehicle management authorities.

Public security authorities began a national crackdown on drunk driving in August.

Shanghai police had detained 158 people for high-level drunk driving by the end of August.


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