BEIJING, Feb 26 (Reuters) China again topped the world list of road deaths and accidents last year, with nearly 99,000 people killed in 450,000 accidents, Xinhua news agency said today.
Vice Minister of Communications Xu Yahua said both figures ranked a first in the world's most populous country.
''In 2005, 98,738 people were killed in 450,000 road accidents and 470,000 were injured, with direct property losses totalling 1.88 billion yuan (233.8 million dollars),'' Xu was quoted as saying.
China's roads have long been the deadliest in the world, largely a result of drivers who commonly switch lanes without signalling, ignore traffic lights, speed down the wrong side of the road or even throw their vehicles into reverse when they have missed a highway exit.
Wu called for strengthening management over drivers' training schools to improve quality and said road safety had become one of the top concerns of the country.
''With the fast expanding auto market in China, the number of drivers increased by 5.5 million a year, or an annual growth of 10 per cent, during the country's 10th Five-Year plan (2001-2005) period,'' Xinhua said.
REUTERS PR BS1328