China suspends tough new traffic penalties

Busy road in Beijing (file image) The number of drivers in China is soaring

China has suspended tough new traffic penalties, designed to reduce the country's soaring accident rate, following a public outcry.

The controversial rules imposed penalty points for motorists who drove through amber traffic lights, with a driving ban after two offences.

There were widespread complaints that drivers stopping abruptly at lights were causing more accidents.

More than 60,000 people were killed in road accidents in China last year.

The transport ministry says the ever-growing number of vehicles on the roads is making things worse.

In a bid to restore some order, new rules introduced on 1 January stepped up penalties for speeding, drinking and driving and using a mobile phone while behind the wheel.

But correspondents say it was the measure to stop driving through red and amber lights that went down badly with motorists.

Even the official Xinhua news agency joined the criticism after complaints that motorists were stopping so abruptly at traffic lights that they were causing collisions and tailbacks.

The government gave no reason for the climbdown - saying only that it was reconsidering its policies.

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