On Sunday and Monday alone, police in Jiangsu province dealt with 4,874 cases of drivers illegally using the emergency lanes on expressways. Thepaper.cn comments:
It should be noted that only a very small percentage of those who illegally use the emergency lanes are caught by the police, and it happens much more frequently than the number of cases might suggest.
Some have called for installing more cameras to monitor the expressways and for the information of those caught illegally using the emergency lanes to be put into a special database. Yet some provinces have already adopted these measures and they have still failed to curb the illegal use of emergency lanes.
It is the lack of effective penalties for those violators that encourages such behavior. According to the country's road safety law, those who illegally occupy emergency lanes on expressways will be fined 200 yuan (.4) and have six points deducted on their license.
Some say that penalty is heavy enough because it is the same as driving through a red traffic light. However, those who drive through red lights must pay compensation if they cause any accidents, and if the accident is serious they might even face criminal charges.
Those who illegally use the emergency lanes face no other penalties than the previously mentioned fine and points deduction. Yet the illegal occupancy of emergency lanes often leads to accidents as well as serious traffic jams.
It is advisable to increase the penalties. Actually, the fire prevention law sets a good example. It punishes those who block fire exits with fines of between 5,000 yuan and 50,000 yuan, and if their behavior or actions result in a serious accident they face criminal charges.
Those occupying the emergency lanes of expressways commit a similar wrong and they should face similar penalties.