China: Accident raises concern over trucks

Date Posted: 2012-07-18

Transport experts on Tuesday urged authorities to do more to prevent accidents involving overloaded trucks, following a fatal accident in Beijing in which a cyclist was buried alive.


Emergency services in Fengtai district were called out at about 6 am on Sunday when a heavy-duty vehicle carrying construction materials overturned while turning at an intersection. Tons of soil spilled onto the street, entirely covering a female cyclist, who was pronounced dead at the scene. Police had not released details of the victim or the driver of the truck as of Tuesday night.


However, experts said the tragedy puts the spotlight on accidents involving heavy-duty trucks, which have been all too common as China continues its massive urbanization drive. "Despite the contribution made by the drivers of these trucks to urban construction and economic development, they have become a target of criticism in recent years due to their frequent traffic violations, serious pollution and the problems they have caused to communities," said Zhang Zhuting, a professor at the Transport Management Institute under the Ministry of Transport. "It's a sad thing that an indispensable part of urban construction has become a killer." He said accidents involving overloaded or speeding trucks often occur in the early morning or late at night, when supervision by traffic police can be less stringent. As transporting construction materials is not very profitable, logistics companies cut costs by packing trucks with more cargo or failing to cover sand on trucks, although this is required by the government to prevent sand from spilling and polluting the environment, Zhang said.


"People can hardly see the difference in the dark anyway," he said. "It is important for the government to enhance supervision." Yu Lingyun, a law professor at Tsinghua University, agreed and added that the key to solving the problem lies in stricter supervision of those responsible for the construction projects rather than the drivers themselves. "Many drivers of heavy-duty trucks, with none or fake license plates, can easily escape punishment," he said. "Only by stopping overloaded or unqualified trucks from going onto the streets at the very beginning can we prevent the danger from occurring."


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