China’s “most severe traffic law in history”

China’s newspapers are today mulling over what is being portrayed as a sea change on China’s roads, a new regulation that has caused some consternation: Running a yellow light (note yellow, not red) will now be severely punished with an automatic deduction of six points! Thus cartoons and graphic depictions of cars, traffic lights and other nondescript yellow things (see gallery below) all bellow out that running a yellow light (闯黄灯) is now no longer cool.

Yet when a journalist from Orient Today (东方今报) from Henan province yesterday went to observe the traffic in Zhengzhou (郑州), capital of Henan province, he found the usual black Audis and other cars jumping yellow lights, some drivers talking on their mobile phones while they did so, as if there were no new “most severe traffic law in history” in force in China.

Here’s a few other yellow traffic light-themed front pages from around China today:

The revised “Motor Vehicle Driver’s License Application and Use Regulation” (机动车驾驶证申领和使用规定), otherwise labelled by the newspapers as the “most severe traffic law in history”, came into effect on 1 January 2013. The new regulation includes the provision that drivers running a yellow light will be deducted six points. Judging by the online feedback elicited by this new regulation, however, some have labelled it a near reign of terror on the road where “running a yellow light is almost as bad as being suspected of engaging in illegal erotic activities (如今“闯黄”比“涉黄”更紧张).

So to see for himself whether the new law was being obeyed, a journalist from Orient Today (东方今报) from Henan province went to observe the traffic at a busy intersection in Zhengzhou (郑州), capital city of Henan province. And lo and behold, a few hours later he reported that “there are still some drivers who are running the yellow light.” One of the highlights of his observations involved a black Audi. When said Audi approached the intersection at some speed, the light turned from green to yellow and the driver slammed on the brakes while the tyres screeched. But as the journalist observer was handy to point out, the Audi’s front wheels came to rest a few meters AHEAD of the stop line. Various other drivers, the journalist reported, still sped over the yellow light, some talking on their mobile phones as they did so. Later the journalist found out from the local traffic police that no-one in Zhengzhou had yet been prosecuted in any way for jumping a yellow light.

There was heated discussion of the new traffic regulations on Sina Weibo. A survey asking respondents what they thought of the six points deduction for running a yellow light found that over 70% of participants found it unreasonable.

Links and sources
Orient Today (东方今报): 新规实施3天 郑州暂未处罚闯黄灯

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