BEIJING, Sep 28 (Reuters) A Chinese court has jailed a group of 31 for up to 12 years for ''damaging public security'' by deliberately driving into cars to cause accidents and extorting money from drivers, a newspaper said today.
The group, aged from 22 to 50, caused more than 200 car accidents in Beijing by running into cars trying to overtake them and then demanding compensation from the drivers, the Beijing News said, adding they had extorted over 510,000 yuan.
Under Chinese law, if one car overtaking another causes an accident, the one doing the overtaking is responsible.
''The defendants deliberately caused a large number of traffic accidents in the city which could make cars lose control and threaten the personal and property safety of many people,'' the court ruling was quoted as saying.
Chinese people often hand over cash to the other party if they are involved in accidents and obviously to blame to avoid the hassle of getting the police involved.
China has the world's deadliest roads, due to popular disregard for traffic regulations, lax police enforcement of laws and a cavalier attitude towards safety.
Last year almost 90,000 people died in traffic accidents and 400,000 were injured -- which works out at around one death every five minutes.
REUTERS SG RK1041