Chinese Drivers Getting Better

Chinese authorities are saying that the number of fatalities (and accidents) on Chinese roads is falling, despite something like an 80% year-over-year recent increase in traffic:

The number of road traffic deaths in China was 89,455 in 2006, 9.4 percent fewer than that in 2005, and the first time below the 90,000-benchmark since 2000, according to the Ministry of Public Security.

“The country recorded 378,781 traffic accidents in 2006, down 15.9 percent year on year,” said a ministry spokesman on Monday.

While it’s possible that accident rates in China are falling this quickly, it either means Chinese drivers were, until recently, the worst on the planet and are now getting a lot better, or that someone is playing with statistics.

[Update] Hard to entirely square the preceding with this:

In general, traffic flow on main roads in cities such as Beijing and
Shanghai has reached 90% of capacity during peak hours. Traffic
congestion is aggravated by traffic safety problems – it is estimated
that more than 600 people are killed and 45,000 injured daily on
China’s roads. Annual direct and indirect costs have been estimated at
between 10-20 billion, approximately 1.5% of China’s GDP.


  1. I think there’s just a hidden variable here… that increased traffic itself.
    Overloaded roads move slower, and the chance of fatility or accident decreases dramatically with speed.

  2. it may be a bit morbid but could it be that the really bad drivers have killed themselves off??

  3. Previous years had more bicycle/rickshaw/moped fatalities?