Frontier town Shenzhen has long aspired to being at the leading edge of all things auto. The sprawling, made-from-scratch city just north of Hong Kong is home to the Warren Buffet-backed car company BYD, a pioneer of electric mobility, and electric taxis and buses plying the streets are a common sight.
Now the city’s traffic police is introducing visionary new ways to curb bad driving habits among citizens.
Drivers caught using high beams inappropriately will now be offered on-the-spot training about the dangers of such practices, according to a posting on the Shenzhen Traffic Police’s verified account with Weibo.
Specifically, headlight-happy drivers will be forced to stare straight ahead into the glaring headlights of a police van for a period of several minutes.
“You still dare to use your headlights carelessly?” the Traffic Police posting asks. “If so, then starting from now we’ll make you stare at our high beams for five minutes.”
The threat is diluted somewhat by an emoticon of a giant laughing face.
“Traffic police should follow the law. Please tell me what law or regulation is this punishment based on?” wrote one Weibo user.
Others worried such punishments could be harmful to the well-being of drivers and have unforeseen consequences.
“It will do harm to the driver’s health and may cause more danger on the road as the driver will get tired after the punishment. We’d better think twice before judging this kind of punishment,” wrote another.
Still, most people reacted positively to the Shenzhen Traffic Police’s approach.
“An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth! This punishment should be popularized. When can it be used to deal with red-light running or hit-and-run?” wrote another.
According to the police, ‘inappropriate’ use of high beams could include using them in situations in which drivers coming from the opposite direction might find their visibility impaired due to their brightness.
In addition to the requirement that drivers stare at bright lights, high-beams hijinks will also cost drivers 300 yuan ($49) in fines.
Such a punishment may turn out to be more effective than staring at headlights.
But if all else fails, if forced to stare at high beams, as one microblogger jokes, “Just put on a pair of sunglasses.”