According to the Public Security Bureau (PSB) only just over 200 pedestrians, drivers, cyclists and others people died every day last year on China’s roads (The World Health Organization’s approximation is close to double this figure). Even the minimum 73,484 deaths (out of 265,204 officially investigated traffic accidents) in 2008 (compared to just under 82,000 road kills in 2007) as published by the PSB is equivalent to the population of my home town of Dun Laoghaire being wiped out three times over. That’s quite a sobering thought.
90,000 people died in the Sichuan Earthquake.
The most common accident scenes in a city like Hangzhou are of a crumpled bicycle / electric bike and rider lying under a car (invariably a taxi) or bus. My, first impression regarding the accident shown in the photos below, which I witnessed yesterday, was that there were no fatalities because I didn’t see an ambulance. Actually, the cyclist was removed in an unmarked van…. straight to the mortuary.
On the motorways the culprit is usually a truck (fuel tanker), while in the countryside an accident scene is likely to involve a packed long-distance sleeper bus.
And the outlook…?
- China accounts for 10% of global car sales and is the fastest-growing market in the world
- 19 out of 1,000 Chinese drive a car, whereas in America some 780 people out of 1,000 do
- There are 30 million cars in China today. By 2020, that figure could rise to 140 million cars alone (that is a lot of carbon monoxide).
- There are over 165 million licensed motor vehicles in China, 90% of which were cars and motorcycles.
- Over 18 million cars were privately owned.
- Beijing has close to 3 million cars. Every day over 1,000 new vehicles appear on the streets of Beijing. To cope with the rising car numbers 1,000,000 more parking spaces are needed.
- China had no motorways in 1988; it now has 41,000 km, the second-largest network in the world after the United States.