2011 Jan 20 Beijing's Greatest Hits: Free-to-air Traffic Carnage on BTV
We are all aware of the daily insanity of 4.8 million Beijing drivers hitting the streets with nothing but blind ignorance of their mirrors, indicators and brakes, whilst pedestrians blindfold themselves and play chicken with trucks. Most of us manage to pull through the madness each day relatively unscathed, but as the Shanghaiist points out, BTV's daily Traffic Lights program graphically reveals that many Beijingers aren't that lucky. Twice a day, the program compiles a collection of Beijing's traffic greatest 'hits,' playing out the carnage in real time, slow motion, and rewind.
While there are many news items that the Chinese media prefers not to dwell upon, apparently nightmarishly graphic road kill, broadcast as children are readying for bed or waking up, has yet to come under the red pen of the powers-that-be. The shockingly violent footage of pedestrians and cyclists getting knocked down, run over, and generally smashed around by cars, buses and trucks is replayed dozens of times, with analysis and the kind of in-depth commentary that you once found on BBC's Match of the Day.
If there is one thing you should learn from watching this television show, it is always look both ways when crossing the road. What these videos show time and time again in increasingly graphic detail is that pedestrians have a foolish belief that there won't be any cars on the road. Drivers have an equally foolish belief that pedestrians won't be crossing the road. Or perhaps they just have less reason to care.
So what is China's official road toll? Altough a recent article posted by Want China Times claims that traffic fatalities are the leading cause of death for people aged under 45 in China, and the number of car owners has indisputably skyrocketed, rather puzzlingly official traffic deaths have allegedly fallen to rates lower than in most other developing and developed nations. Researchers at the Central South University of China concluded that this can only be due to police failing to report every fatality, of which there were at least 67,000 reported in 2009. 2010 statistics have yet to be disclosed.
In any case, I am obliged to issue a stern warning to all readers of this article that the Youku clip of Traffic Lights below is unquestionably graphic. You will see people dying every 7 seconds in high quality images. You will see countless slow motion replays and near dead-pan emotion from policemen and narrators.
For those who wish to see more, BTV 公共 Gonggong broadcasts this program daily at 6:30am, 7:05pm and then 9:15pm.