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Chinese Driver Fined for Being on Highway Over 12 hours

A winding highway in China.

A winding highway in China.

From NetEase:

Driver has to pay 375 yuan overtime fee for sleeping overnight at a highway rest stop

Having to pay a toll when driving on a highway is something drivers all know about, but if while you were exiting a highway and the toll booth worker says to you, “You’ve exceeded your time, you have to pay an overtime fee”, would you be surprised?

Recently, a Mr. Gao from Shijiazhuang of Hebei is a bit unhappy because of this “overtime fine”. It was after 8pm at night when Mr. Gao left Luquan of Hebei and headed towards home in Xingtang county of Shijiazhuang on the highway. After 10pm at night, at a rest stop in Shijiazhuang, Mr. Gao felt a little unwell, and after taking some medicine, he fell asleep in his car.

Perhaps it was because he was too exhausted, but when Mr. Gao woke up, it was already past 8am the next day. It had already been over 12 hours since he first got on the highway. However, when Mr. Gao got back on the road and was preparing to exit the highway at the Xingtang south exit, trouble arrived.

The toll booth worker told Mr. Gao that because the amount of time he has been on the highway has exceeded 12 hours, in addition to the original 40 yuan highway toll, he must also pay a 385 yuan “overtime fee”, approximately 10x the toll, before he can get off the highway. Mr. Gao, as an experienced driver of 15 years, was bewildered, having only heard of being fined for excessive speed, what is this about having to pay for excessive time?

Having the same question as Mr. Gao, news editor Cui Tianqi called the Hebei province highway administration department. There, workers explained that there is indeed this regulation in the “Hebei Province Notification of Relevant Issues Regarding Highway Freight Transport Fee Collection“. Vehicles traveling within Hebei that exceed 12 hours between entering and exiting are all considered “overtime vehicles” and a fee indeed must be collected.

Hebei province [highway administration] staff: “We’re awfully sorry but this is how it is within Hebei provincial borders, where there is always a time limit when traveling on the highways. When traveling along one stretch, you can’t exceed 12 hours. If traveling on two stretches or more, you can’t exceed 24 hours. How much toll exactly is to be paid is automatically calculated by the system, we aren’t able to confirm that for you.”

In that case, is the collection of an “overtime fee” something that only exists on Hebei highways? Hunan province highway administration department personnel say Hunan province also has this “12 hour” rule:

Hunan province [highway administration] staff: “Are you getting on the highway and then getting off after 12 hours? Yes, the card you receive upon getting on the highway shows the fee schedules.”

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Although the fees are not the same in different places, when it comes to whether or not a fee is collected, its the same in various places. However, forcing long-distance drivers who are tired and want to sleep for a bit to pay an overtime fee, isn’t the highway administration department simply forcing drivers to drive when fatigued? The Hebei province highway administration department worker says that a driver can show a receipt for lodging or dining and pay toll normally and won’t be calculated as overtime.

Hebei province [highway administration] staff: If you’re in the rest area/service stop and for example you stay in a motel, you say “I have business here, I lodged here for a night”, and you have a lodging receipt, then this will be considered normal.

Therefore it seems this overtime feel isn’t that strict and unreasonable. In that case, does a regulation that makes drivers openly complain really need to be enforced? The highway administration departments of various places say this is to guard against drivers “exchanging cards to avoid toll”.

From NetEase:

塑化劑 [网易广东省网友]:

Long-distance drivers, congratulations, driving while fatigued is finally justified.

你妹很好 [网易浙江省丽水市网友]:

On one side telling drivers not to drive when tired, on the other side not letting people stop too long, are you asking long-distance drivers to keep an alarm clock on them?

124508043 [网易福建省漳州市网友]:

It’s frightening to think about society these days, not knowing whether this driver will one day as a result of harboring resentment take revenge on society.

hnbright [网易河南省郑州市网友]:

It isn’t just this driver who wants to take revenge!!! But the target [of their anger] shouldn’t be society.

wy123789zz [网易江西省南昌市网友]:

Originally planned to collect USD but upon considering how difficult it is and how little he makes for driving long-distance decided to let it go.

wylhl589 [网易山东省网友]:

Will we have to pay an overtime fee for living past a certain age in the future?

jry850616 [网易上海市网友]:

China’s toll stations are such garbage!!!

网易陕西省西安市网友: (responding to above)

Not just the toll stations!

5毛一最可怜的奴才 [网易四川省德阳市什邡市网友]:

A fee with Chinese characteristics.

77lc77 [网易江苏省南京市网友]:

Can I use profanity?

luren2833 [网易北京市网友]:

If the highway is jammed with traffic for over 12 hours, how do we fine your highway administration department?

Written by Fauna

Fauna is a mysterious young Shanghainese girl who lives in the only place a Shanghainese person would ever want to live: Shanghai. In mid-2008, she started chinaSMACK to combine her hobby of browsing Chinese internet forums with her goal of improving her English. Through her tireless translation of popular Chinese internet news and phenomenon, her English has apparently gotten dramatically better. At least, reading and writing-wise. Unfortunately, she's still not confident enough to have written this bio, about herself, by herself.

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