Deaths of Chi­nese tourists raise safety is­sues

China Daily (USA) - - ACROSS AMERICA - By LIA ZHU in San Francisco li­azhu@chi­nadai­lyusa.com

A traf­fic ac­ci­dent in which four Chi­nese tourists died in Ari­zona on Sun­day has raised con­cerns about the safety of overseas trav­el­ers when they take to US roads.

The ac­ci­dent oc­curred on state Route 93 at the in­ter­sec­tion with Pierce Ferry Road out­side the town of Dolan Springs, when a van, turn­ing left onto Pierce Ferry Road, col­lided with a bus car­ry­ing staff mem­bers of the Dal­las Cow­boys pro foot­ball team trav­el­ing in the op­po­site di­rec­tion, ac­cord­ing to the Ari­zona De­part­ment of Public Safety.

The van’s driver, Li Guangx­i­ang, 52, and three fe­male pas­sen­gers, Ou Suiqing, 52, Bi Sangqin, 52, and Li Yue­tong, 19, died at the scene. They were all from Guang­dong prov­ince in

For­rest Lin, tourism op­er­a­tor

South China and vis­it­ing the United States, ac­cord­ing to the lat­est in­for­ma­tion from the de­part­ment.

The four Cow­boys staffers on the bus were not in­jured in the col­li­sion.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion de­ter­mined that the van failed to yield the right-of-way at a stop sign and was struck by the Cow­boys bus. All van oc­cu­pants were wear­ing seat belts at the time of the crash, the de­part­ment said in a state­ment on Tues­day.

It also said the in­ves­ti­ga­tion is on­go­ing, and an in­spec­tion of the bus will be per­formed by the de­part­ment’s com­mer­cial ve­hi­cle in­spec­tors.

A Los An­ge­les-based lawyer raised questions over the de­part­ment’s con­clu­sions about the ac­ci­dent, say­ing those in­volv­ing fa­tal­i­ties usu­ally re­quire months of in­ves­ti­ga­tion to de­ter­mine fault.

Daniel Deng, who said he has as­sisted many Chi­nese tourists and stu­dents with ma­jor auto ac­ci­dents through­out the US, told China Daily in an email that many peo­ple were “out­raged when the Ari­zona Public Safety De­part­ment con­cluded that the ac­ci­dent was caused by the Chi­nese driver only one day after the ac­ci­dent”.

“Traf­fic ac­ci­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tors will have to in­ves­ti­gate the in­tegrity of the ve­hi­cle, i.e., check­ing the brakes, de­ter­min­ing how fast the bus was go­ing, as well as de­ter­min­ing the well­be­ing of the bus driver, (which) are all im­por­tant fac­tors that must be con­sid­ered when giv­ing judg­ment,” Deng said.

“In ad­di­tion, an au­topsy re­port is ob­vi­ously needed for an ac­ci­dent that in­volves the deaths of hu­man be­ings, and that it­self would re­quire at least a month be­fore re­sults come out,” he said, adding that the de­part­ment’s de­ter­mi­na­tion showed “slop­pi­ness” and “in­con­sid­er­ate work and ef­fort”.

Self-driv­ing tours have be­come popular among Chi­nese tourists. Many tourism agen­cies in China pro­mote routes such as Cal­i­for­nia High­way 1, the Grand Canyon and some na­tional parks.

“The big­gest chal­lenge for Chi­nese self-driv­ing tourists is the lan­guage bar­rier and lack of knowl­edge of lo­cal traf­fic rules,” said For­rest Lin, a Guangzhou-based tourism op­er­a­tor in an ear­lier in­ter­view.

Chi­nese tourists trav­el­ing overseas have been in­volved in tragic ac­ci­dents re­cently. A tour bus rolled over, killing a Chi­nese tourist and in­jur­ing three more last month in Alexandria, Vir­ginia. An­other tour bus ac­ci­dent killed 26 last week in Tai­wan after it caught fire on a high­way.

As more Chi­nese travel in­ter­na­tion­ally, their in­volve­ment in ac­ci­dents also has risen, said Zha Liyou, Chi­nese deputy con­sul gen­eral in San Francisco.

Last year, around 4.7 mil­lion to 4.8 mil­lion peo­ple trav­eled be­tween China and the US, and the num­ber is ex­pected to ex­ceed 5 mil­lion this year, he said.

The big­gest chal­lenge for Chi­nese self­driv­ing tourists is the lan­guage bar­rier.”

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