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February 17th, 2009:

Beijing Roads See 1,500 New Cars A Day

Reuters in Beijing, SCMP – Updated on Feb 17, 2009

The capital has added nearly 1,500 new cars to its notoriously congested roads each day so far this year, state media said on Tuesday, despite a nationwide fall in car sales and efforts to cut traffic. “The city is facing serious traffic pressure and safety risks due to the growing number of automobiles,” Song Jianguo, head of the Beijing Traffic Management Bureau, was quoted by Xinhua news agency as saying.

Beijing registered 65,970 new vehicles in the first 45 days of the year, or a daily increase of 1,466, Xinhua said.

Authorities have introduced incentives to try to boost domestic demand but official data shows car sales in January fell 7.76 per cent from a year earlier as traditionally roaring economic growth slowed.

Beijing has also introduced rules aimed at taking a fifth of private cars off the road each day, according to licence plate numbers, to ease congestion and pollution.

Mainland roads have long been among the most dangerous in the world due to overloaded and speeding trucks and drivers who switch lanes without signalling and often ignore traffic lights.

The country recorded 5.1 road accident deaths for every 10,000 motor vehicles in 2007, the highest rate in the world, Xinhua reported earlier.