Congested Beijing adds 1,466 cars to its roads each day

BEIJING Tue Feb 17, 2009 2:26am EST

Cars travel closely behind each other along a main road in central Beijing November 19, 2008. REUTERS/David Gray

Cars travel closely behind each other along a main road in central Beijing November 19, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/David Gray

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BEIJING (Reuters) - China's capital has added nearly 1,500 new cars to its notoriously congested roads each day so far this year, state media said on Tuesday, despite a nationwide fall in car sales and efforts to cut traffic.

"The city is facing serious traffic pressure and safety risks due to the growing number of automobiles," Song Jianguo, head of the Beijing Traffic Management Bureau, was quoted by Xinhua news agency as saying.

Beijing registered 65,970 new vehicles in the first 45 days of the year, or a daily increase of 1,466, Xinhua said.

China has introduced incentives to try to boost domestic demand but official data shows car sales in January fell 7.76 percent from a year earlier as traditionally roaring economic growth slowed.

Beijing has also introduced rules aimed at taking a fifth of private cars off the road each day, according to license plate numbers, to ease congestion and pollution.

China's roads have long been among the most dangerous in the world due to overloaded and speeding trucks and drivers who switch lanes without signaling and often ignore traffic lights.

China recorded 5.1 road accident deaths for every 10,000 motor vehicles in 2007, the highest rate in the world, Xinhua reported earlier.

(Reporting by Beijing newsroom; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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