China gets the safety-first message

While the motor industry in the West is spluttering to a recessionary halt, China’s car-owning population continues to accelerate at a frightening pace (in every sense).

Already the world’s largest automobile market, millions of China’s new middle class citizens are now buying cars for the first time – but levels of road safety awareness, driving ability and vehicle maintenance have lagged woefully behind European standards.

The situation was exposed in Driven Together when Richard Meredith and Phil Colley campaigned for better road safety in Asia during their historic first car crossing of the new Asian Highway which highlighted frightening levels of death and injury on the roads of the East.

Thanks to lead sponsor Aston Martin, other corporate supporters and a host of private donations, they also raised more than 83,000 euros for UNICEF programmes aimed at saving young lives in Beijing, China’s ultra-frenetic capital city.

Now, in the latest edition of Roadsafe, mouthpiece of the British motor safety industry, comes news that China is finally catching up with its responsibilities by launching a national action plan aimed at reducing its road deaths next year to fewer than 90,000.

A large part of this will be focused on Beijing where 2100km of roads in and around the city are to be risk assessed – with counter-measures then targeted on the danger spots – and a campaign is under way to promote ESC (Electronic Stability Controls) which dramatically lessen the effects of whiplash.

True to form, the Chinese Government is throwing a huge swarm of burocrats at the problem with officials from the Ministry of Science & Technology (MOST), the Ministry of Public Security (MPS) and the Ministry of Transport (MOT), all said to be heavily involved.

Thatcham, the UK transport insurance industry’s research centre, won last year’s Prince Michael international award in which the Asian Highway team was also nominated. UNICEF is similarly using the team’s donated funds towards road safety education programmes in Beijing.

‘Hang a light on the elephant’ – GO HERE