Walking on the street with three Chinese students provided another couple of scary moments today. Two of the students had bikes, but they all walked with us. As we were walking I was again amazed at how frantic all the pedestrians, bikes, and cars are. The crossing signal says to walk, and in the US you can for the most part do what the sign says, but in China you must still yield to the cars and the bikes. If the cars don’t look like they are going to hit you and the bikes are swerving then pedestrians have the right to walk. As we were walking I asked Tracey (one of the Chinese students) how many people get hit by a car here every year. Jokingly, he told us that everyone gets hit by a car at some point in their lives, but in all reality he thought that every year about 1 million people get hit by cars. This peaked my interest, so I did some research. Here is a paragraph from car-accidents.com:
“China is the world's most populous country with over 1.3 billion people, about a fifth of the earth's total population. According to official studies there are about 450,000 car accidents on Chinese roads each year which cause about, 470,000 injuries and 100,000 deaths. The total cost of these crashes was 2.4 Billion dollars. The study concluded that 92 percent of these accidents were due to bad driving skills. These figures are disputed by a World Health Organization (WHO) study. The WHO study reported that the actual number of fatalities on China's roads is more than twice the official figure or about 250,000 killed each year. This study estimates that 45,000 people are injured and 680 killed on China's roads each day! Road traffic crashes are believed to be the leading cause of death for people 15 to 45 years old. The direct and indirect costs of these accidents are estimated at between $12 to 21 billion, or about 1.5 percent of China's GNP. This accident rate means that roughly 20 percent of the world's fatal car accidents take place in China. The Chinese Government has formed a new ministry committee and introduced a major new Road Traffic Safety Law throughout the country in an effort to reduce the accident rate.”
I can believe and have fully seen with my own eyes that these figures tell the truth. Watching the drivers in this country, I would have guessed the figures to be much higher. It is terrifying to walk the streets of China and I hope that the Road Traffic Safety Law will help protect more lives.