Oddly Enough

China police hot-wire sleepy drivers with chilli

Red and green chillies are seen at a traditional market in Jakarta January 30, 2009. REUTERS/Beawiharta

BEIJING (Reuters) - Police in southwest China are spicing up drivers with raw chilli in a bid to stop them falling asleep at the wheel, a newspaper said Wednesday.

Police in the Chongqing region have started serving drivers chilli peppers at highway service stations, holding to the traditional Chinese belief that people often feel more sleepy in the Spring, the Chongqing Evening News said.

Most of the drivers are from neighbouring Sichuan, Yunnan and Hunan provinces, where chillies are a local favourite, it added.

“It’s really good to have some hot peppers when you are tired from driving,” van driver Chen Jun was quoted by the newspaper as saying. “They make you alert.”

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 signalling and often ignore traffic lights.

Reporting by Beijing newsroom