Diagonally Striped Seat Belt T-Shirts Make Chinese Policemen Cross
Since 1993 Chinese law has mandated that vehicle drivers and front seat passengers wear seat belts, yet nearly 20 years of enforcement still hasn't convinced 90% of drivers of the need to buckle up. As a result, the failure to wear seat belts remains the 3rd-leading cause of traffic accident fatalities in China (speeding and drunk driving rank first and second, respectively).
Ignoring the law is one thing, openly thumbing one's nose at it is quite the other and in this latter category we can include the buyers and wearers of Seat Belt T-Shirts. Sold openly at online venues such as Rakuten (where it's recently been deleted) and SINA Weibo (the Chinese analog to Twitter), these in-your-face and on your chest shirts bear a wide diagonal stripe meant to ape the look of a buckled seat belt – from a distance, at least.
As one might expect, China's police are not amused yet for the moment they're merely content to reinforce the party line, as it were. “Those involved in traffic accidents who wear a seat belt are twice as more likely to survive than those who don't,” states a recent update to the Haikou municipal police department's blog. “The risk of injury is also lowered by half.”
Not to be outdone, the Jinan Public Safety commission reminds road travelers that “Failing to wear a seat belt increases risk of fatality during traffic accidents five-fold. You have only one life. You must not treat it lightly.” Sadly, far too many Chinese are doing just that: the “treating life lightly” part, that is.
Reports relayed by Record China state that Chinese police first began noticing online advertisements for Seat Belt T-Shirts on August 17th. The seller promoted the shirts and tempted buyers by crowing their products were “a must-have for drivers.” Lazy immortal drivers, especially.
Although it's difficult to estimate sales of online items without the cooperation of the seller, comments on Chinese on microblogs such as “this is useful!” and “I wish I would have known about this earlier!” hint at the warm reception the t-shirts have received in the marketplace. It's unlikely auto accident victims wearing the shirts will receive a similarly warm reception when they arrive via ambulance at the local hospital emergency department.
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