Surge in illegal drivers evading checkpoints

Xu Lingchao
Police hunt an unqualified driver from Didi Chuxing who evades inspection by traffic officers in fourth such incident within a month.
Xu Lingchao

An illegal ride-hailing car from Didi Chuxing fled from a checkpoint in Minhang District on Wednesday, the fourth case within a month when unqualified Didi drivers had evaded inspections by officers from Shanghai's transport commission and the police.

The traffic authority's law enforcement department said the number of such incidents had surged since the beginning of the year.

Around 10am on June 13, unqualified driver Hao Alei, who is not a Shanghai resident, injured four people, one critically, when he tried to flee from a checkpoint at the junction of Yan’an Road W. and Zhenning Road in Changning District.

Hao is now under criminal detention and facing a charge of endangering public security which could put him behind bars for three to seven years.

One hour before that incident, another unqualified driver from Didi escaped from the same checkpoint.

Chen turned himself in on June 21. He was fined 10,000 yuan (US$1,456) and his driver's license was revoked.

"The best we can do for now is issuing ticket to the unqualified drivers and the platforms," said Zhou Guangyu from the traffic authority's law enforcement department.

From July 7, ride-hailing platforms in the city will face fines of 100,000 yuan for each day when a illegal car is busted.

Officers realize such a penalty is relatively minor for large companies such as Didi Chuxing, so the traffic authority is seeking help from the city's cyberspace affairs commission.

"We are looking at a possible plan which will ban the ride-hailing app which winks at unqualified drivers and even connives with them and covers up the fines for drivers from app stores or stop providing Internet service for the apps for a period of time," Zhou said.

On June 24, driver Tao was spotted at the junction of Fuchang Road and Gubei Road E. in Baoshan District. With a passenger on board, he sped away from the checkpoint. The officers didn't go after him immediately as it would be too dangerous for both the passenger and people on the street if they had started a pursuit.

But they soon located the car via the CCTV cameras. The footage showed Tao put down the passenger several blocks away and drove his car to a Ford 4S store nearby, thinking he had lost the officers.

When they went to the store, Tao collided with the officers' car and crashed into poles at the entrance of the store's yard as he made his getaway.

However, since all Didi Chuxing data is connected with the law enforcement department's database, it didn't take long for the officers to find him. Tao had fled to neighboring Jiangsu Province.

"We called him several times to tell him there was no chance for him to run away," said Zhou. "He eventually turned himself in on July 1."

Tao was fined 10,000 yuan but will face more charges, said police. 

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