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Beijing's streets choked with more cars

BEIJING registered 65,970 new motor vehicles in the first 45 days of this year, with a daily increase of 1,466, according to the municipal traffic authority.

That brought the total number of automobiles in the city to 3.56 million as of Saturday, according to figures from the Beijing Traffic Management Bureau. The city registered 58,590 new drivers in the same period, a daily increase of 1,302. The number of drivers in the city now totals 5.2 million.

Song Jianguo, the bureau head, said the city is facing serious traffic pressure and safety risks due to the growing number of automobiles. The problems were more prominent in the outskirts of Beijing, Song said.

Beijing has suffered 90 deaths from traffic accidents in its suburban areas since the beginning of the year, or 66 percent of the city's total traffic deaths, according to the bureau.

The bureau did not reveal traffic deaths in 2008, but said last year saw the number of people killed in traffic accidents drop by 196 from 2007.

Huang Wei, vice mayor of Beijing, said the number of people killed in traffic accidents in 2008 was below 1,000 people for the first time during the past 10 years.

Song said the bureau would launch a traffic overhaul on Monday, focusing on increased inspections of traffic facilities, road markings and transportation companies.

The bureau will also strengthen surveillance of traffic around schools and drivers of heavy vehicles.


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