BEIJING, March 15 -- Anew citywide campaign is to be launched today in south China' Shenzhen city, to tackle the problem of motorists covering their license plates to evade traffic penalties.
The move could lead to an increase in the current penalty of between 100 yuan (13 U.S. dollars) and 200 yuan for the offense.
At any time of the day, many vehicles driving past the traffic lights near the Shenzhen Media Group on Shennan Thoroughfare in Futian District can be seen with their trunks open until they are well past the signals, the Shenzhen Special Zone Daily reported yesterday.
"The drivers stop their cars and close the trunk after they drive past the lights. This is an obvious way of evading traffic cameras recording their plates," said a man who gave only his last name Wu, who constantly witnesses such behavior from his office nearby.
According to the relevant existing traffic regulations, vehicles caught covering up their plates will be fined between 100 and 200 yuan, while other forms of traffic violations receive fines of up to 500 yuan. Many drivers are taking advantage of the legal discrepancy, said an unnamed traffic police official, quoted by the newspaper.
Apart from the practice of opening the trunk, drivers in the city have also created a number of other ways to cover up their plates to escape heavier penalties, with many of them sharing their experiences on popular Web sites.
A man surnamed Wang said some drivers used mud and other materials to hide two or three numbers to "create an impression that their cars have driven through mud and cover their plates accidentally."
This "accident" sounds to be a reasonable excuse for the traffic authorities, Wang said.
The practice is widely used by drivers, who have also discovered a mud-colored paint.
"They said it was a great discovery. 'You can drive however you want to drive without fear of being heavily penalized,'" said Wang.
The increasing incidence of people covering their vehicle plates is concerning traffic authorities, who vow to crack down on it.
"A special task force will be dispatched to investigate such behavior, and violators will be severely punished," said the official.
The official said they are also making an amendment to the existing regulation, which once adopted will substantially raise the fine for covering up vehicle plates.
(Source: Shenzhen Daily)