Drivers to hit brakes on seeing yellow traffic light

Drivers in China are seeing red over a new crackdown on running through intersections when the lights are yellow.

While announcing new rules that double the penalty for traffic light violations, officials also have stressed that running a yellow light will now be considered equivalent to running a red one.

Drivers accustomed to considering the yellow light a warning and the red light an imperative have been left confused, wondering how they can stop suddenly for a yellow light.

Even the official Xinhua News Agency has joined the criticism. In a "micro-commentary'' on its Sina Weibo account, Xinhua cited pioneering physicist Isaac Newton on the difficulty of stopping the momentum of something in motion, saying the new rules are "unreasonable and contrary to Newton's first law.''

"Netizens say it is difficult to stop on a yellow light. If you reduce your speed to very slow as you come up to the junction, this leads to unbearable traffic congestion,'' Xinhua said.

Police nationwide must enforce the new guidelines on stopping on both red and yellow to protect people's safety, said Li Qing, an official from the Ministry of Public Security's Traffic Administration, in an interview on China Central Television.

Under the new rules that went into effect Tuesday, penalties for traffic light violations doubled to six points on the 12-point scale for losing a licence. If your vehicle is already partly over the line when the light changes from green to yellow, you may continue. Otherwise, you must stop, Li said.

In some cities, the traffic lights count down the seconds until the color changes, but this isn't always the case, including at many intersections in Beijing.

The new rules have sparked outrage online from irate drivers, who have complained of the dangers of stopping short in front of other drivers or the inconvenience of always having to slow down when approaching intersections.

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