In China, where someone is killed in traffic every five minutes, one entrepreneurial doctor has an unusual approach for making roads safer: Treat bad driving like a disease you can diagnose before the driver even gets near a car.
Dr Jin Huiqing has spent nearly three decades trying to figure out why some motorists seem more accident prone than others. He has translated his research into a lucrative business selling his road safety program to Chinese municipalities. At least one city using his methods reports a decline in traffic deaths.
He has studied the records of thousands of Chinese bus, van and cab drivers, put dozens through neurological tests, examined hundreds of blood samples. Since last year, he’s even been trying to find gene markers for bad drivers.
‘Cars can be fitted with the highest levels of equipment: safety belts, air bags, and so on. Roads can be more regulated. But people, how can you help them become better?’ Dr Jin said in an interview in the central city of Hefei, where he is based.
‘People still need to be controlled, they must face restrictions.’ Dr Jin tries to target the root cause of crashes by identifying the physical or psychological traits of poor drivers, such as risk-taking or poor response time under stress, and keeping them off the streets or ensuring they get adequate training.
The cost of traffic casualties is so high that accident-prone people should at least be barred from driving commercially, he said.