To Illustrate New Yellow-Light Regulation, TV Show Airs Traffic Accident Greatest Hits

China recently increased the penalty for running yellow lights: offenders stand to lose fully half of their 12 “points” (if a driver loses all 12, he/she has to go through training and retake a driver’s exam) and must pay up to a 200 yuan fine.

Some have interpreted the new regulation, which into effect yesterday, to mean that drivers must brake abruptly upon seeing yellow, which seems like a dumb reading of the law. No cop would possibly ticket someone for going through a yellow… right?


In an unusual move, China’s state Xinhua News Agency echoed drivers’ oppositions on Tuesday. A post on its official Weibo reads: “This new rule is against Newton’s first law of motion.”

In a Weibo post titled “Xinhua Micro Comment”, Xinhua  lashed out at the new rule, quoting complaints from netizens.

“Netizens have complained the difficulty of stopping at the yellow lights. If all cars slow down as much as they can before the lights, it will create more traffic for the already congested roads.”

Then the author went on to criticise the new rule , “It’s against Newton’s law and we seriously demand a revision.”

Indeed, as it is currently worded, the law says that only drivers who have passed the “stop line” are allowed to proceed through the intersection when the light turns yellow. Otherwise, they must “stop.” Yellow lights, then, may well effectively now be red.

Of course, if you don’t even slow down at a yellow, the CCTV-13 newscast embedded here would like to show you what can happen. Bodies fly. And this is why the new regulation has come into effect.

(We’ve featured at least of of the clips on an episode of Traffic Light; it’s the one set to R Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly.”)

    4 Responses to “To Illustrate New Yellow-Light Regulation, TV Show Airs Traffic Accident Greatest Hits”

    1. RhZ

      China’s government doesn’t understand how rules are supposed to work. You see the same thing with the jokes for new rules for party members. Those are obviously not designed to be enforceable, but here its just going to cause more problems.

      Sheesh. Talk about ineffective. There is a basic rule in China, don’t hit people. None of these incidents are about yellow lights but about following the rules of the road and driving at a safe speed. Yes, people and bikes don’t follow the rules, which is why cars must.

      Red light means stop! Yellow light is a timer for drivers to know when the red light is coming. Making the yellow light into a sort of stop rule is idiotic. Drivers need clear rules, thanks for trying to make traffic rules as opaque as all the other laws.

    2. Ander

      Why are people crossing on the yellow light and getting hit by cars still going through on the yellow light? Oh, right~

    3. Ming

      I’m a Chinese native and holds both PRC and US Driver’s licenses. The new interpretation of the law is ridiculous. You either make flashing green (or yellow for that matter) mandatory throughout the country before enforcing this, or adopt at least a remotely reasonable rule. Yellow lights in the US is a pretty good example. Yellow duration in the US is adjusted according to the speed limit, there’s usually a good 4-5 sec on a 55mph highway and 3 sec on a 30mph road, whereas in China everything is just 1 sec. It’s impossible to stop before it if you are driving anything above 15km/h. The problem mentioned in the video above can also be easily solved by, again, learning from the US system. Add a 2-4 sec delay between turning red in one way and turning green the other way. We don’t even need to debate, there are 100+ countries we can just copy from, but no, we have to make our own oh-so-ridiculous-impossible-to-flow rule. What a shame!

      • Anthony Tao

        While we’re on the subject: I was in a cab trying to turn left from Xindong Lu onto Gongti the other day. Note to everyone: never, ever try to turn left there. I knew this deep down — I don’t think I’ve taken that route in two years — but for whatever reason I thought there would be few enough cars for it to work. The left-turn stoplight goes green for 15 seconds, ensuring three cars get by, and then goes red for three minutes. Like watching a commercial telethon.


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