Characteristics of Chinese drivers attending a mandatory training course following licence suspension

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Judy Fleiter
Barry Watson
Manquan Guan
Jingyan Ding
Cheng Xu

Penalties and sanctions to deter risky/illegal behaviours are important components of traffic law enforcement. For licence sanctions, some offences attract automatic suspension while others attract demerit points which can indirectly lead to licence loss. In China, a licence is suspended when a driver accrues twelve demerit points within one year. When this occurs, the person must undertake a one-week retraining course at their own expense and successfully pass an examination to become relicensed. Little is known about the effectiveness of this program. A pilot study was conducted in Zhejiang Province to examine basic information about participants of a retraining course. The aim was to gather baseline data for future comparison. Participants were recruited at a driver retraining centre in a large city in Zhejiang Province. In total, 239 suspended drivers completed an anonymous questionnaire which included demographic information, driving history, and crash involvement. Overall, 87% were male with an overall mean age of 35.02 years (SD=8.77; range 21-60 years). A large proportion (83.3%) of participants owned a vehicle. Commuting to work was reported by 64% as their main reason for driving, while 16.3% reported driving for work. Only 6.4% reported holding a licence for 1 year or less (M=8.14 years, SD=6.5, range 1-31 years) and people reported driving an average of 18.06 hours/week (SD=14.4, range 1-86 hours). This represents a relatively experienced group, especially given the increase in new drivers in China. The number of infringements reportedly received in the previous year ranged from 2 to 18 (M=4.6, SD=3.18); one third of participants reported having received 5 or more infringements. Approximately one third also reported having received infringements in the previous year but not paid them. Various strategies for avoiding penalties were reported. The most commonly reported traffic violations were: drink driving (DUI; 0.02-0.08 mg/100ml) with 61.5% reporting 1 such violation; and speeding (47.7% reported 1-10 violations). Only 2.2% of participants reported the more serious drunk driving violation (DWI; above 0.08mg/100ml). Other violations included disobeying traffic rules, using inappropriate licence, and licence plate destroyed/not displayed. Two-thirds of participants reported no crash involvement in the previous year while 14.2% reported involvement in 2-5 crashes. The relationship between infringements and crashes was limited, however there was a small, positive significant correlation between crashes and speeding infringements (r=.2, p=.004).

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