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:

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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.”


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.

  • mr. wiener

    I’m spartacus..I mean sofa!

    • Little Wolf

      I’m WEINER!

      • Little Wolf

        I guess crystal meth hasn’t quite caught on in the China trucking industry.

        • mr. wiener

          I’m trying to imagine a bunch of Chinese tweeking……oh the horror!… the horror!

          • Jeff

            Best comments of the post! Comicbookguy…

    • The Shadow Knows

      Ok, take the sofa. Now if sofa was the jacuzzi with the hot, naked Miss China and, maybe, Miss South Korea, in it….then that would be worth fighting over. :P

      • mr. wiener

        A jacuzzi with Miss Japan and Miss Korea would be more fun, imagine the resulting cat fight. You could put some soap suds and your laundry while you were at it.

        • 404 name not found

          How about Miss China, Korea, Japan, Thailand (i hope she doesn’t have a dick), Philippines all together? :)

  • sigh china should concentrate on fining philipinos for overstaying in the SARS

    • mr. wiener


      • Brett Hunan

        To be fair, he did type the word “overstaying”.

  • only in china !!

  • Alex L

    Maybe China wants to be like Singapore, cause Singapore is a FINE city!

    • KDog

      Can’t drive anywhere for 12 hours in Singapore..

  • k

    How does his car sitting while turned off and not being a nuisance justify any fine? The initial toll should be enough, I don’t see why they should penalize exhausted drivers who are being responsible and not driving while ill.

    • Its called a ‘box.’ When in China… do not step outside the ‘box.’

    • B-pete

      maybe these cars accidence thats happening these days not enough? thats why? :)

    • Harland

      Sleeping in a car is vagrancy. They say right there that the fine is revoked if you can show a receipt for a highway motel.

      “The highway administration departments of various places say this is to guard against drivers “exchanging cards to avoid toll”.””

      This is the payoff of the entire article, the explanation of why the policy exists in the first place. Too bad the editor didn’t bother to explain what this means, or expand on this in any way. To me it just sounds like yet another oddly named Chinese policy.

      • StupidAmerican

        Perhaps a few people found a way to exchange tickets in such a way that they paid minimum fees, so they implemented this which stopped the whole exchanging tickets thing. (taking 2 tickets when you enter and say you just took a u-turn after a day’s trip) and that messed with a few people.

  • Foreign Devil

    C’mon Fauna! Your country is having power struggles at the highest level and you have a story on a guy paying a high toll? Please give us the dirt about what is going on in Chinese “parliament” or whatever you guys call your government headquarters. That is news that actually effects everyone. . even people outside China.

    • *sigh*

      That’s not what this site is about. It’s about stories that the normal Chinese people are discussing online. I love posts like this, because without ChinaSmack I’d never hear about stories like these.

      • tai wai

        That’s not what this site is about. It’s about stories that the normal Chinese people are discussing online.

        Well, that obviously excludes any political news, then.


    • coala power

      exactly my thoughts….

      • coala power

        btw, i am off until something more interesting comes up. As far as i can see, i missed one or the other opportunity in the last few weeks. But money and women are more important then posting on this forum. 2 more months to go my friends !

    • donscarletti

      Check the BBC website or something.

  • 平凡人

    Another case of inconsistency in this beloved land. In some parts of China, there are hotels at the rest stops for drivers to rest, which means there is no rule pertaining to spending too much time on the highway. In this case, not so.
    Some many signs on the highway which discourages fatigue driving but the systems does not support this. LOL.

  • Alex

    Don’t drive while tired! REST!!

    But if you do, you’re gonna be paying a big ass fine.

  • Rick in China

    A fee may be justifiable, but the amount of this fee is insane. Overnight lodging at a highway rest stop in China would cost what, 80 yuan? 100? The fine is sufficient for a 4 star hotel in a big city.

  • Kong

    Translation correction: Only Hebei and Hunan were mentioned in the Chinese. No one from Hubei was involved, and I’m pretty sure there’s no province called Heibei.

    • Sorry for the mistake, thank you for your corrections.

  • Korean

    They have this in Denmark too, you know….

    • Korean

      And the fines can be up too 14,000-15,500

  • Cleo

    Otherwise, more people would use their cars to sleep in on a highway and those cars could become repositories for bombs planted by German and Japanese terrorists. Anyway, it’s poor conduct to not sleep in one’s own bed.

    • Brett Hunan

      Lol Cleo, your so cute.

  • Rin5

    There is something called “corruption” where 90% of the fine collected from hardworking people goes to the government official’s lobbying fee and/or dinner (etc.).

  • waihang


    Mr. Gao felt a little unwell, and after taking some medicine [read: baijiu], he fell asleep in his car.

    385 yuan isn’t nice for a low paid driver in China, wonder if he couldn’t have got a fake receipt from some motel or just get back to the booth from where he came from and buy a new toll ticket.

  • Ryo

    The fine is justifiable. If there were no fine, Chinese people will find thousands of ways to avoid the highway fees. What they need to do is simply list this rule at the toll booths for everyone to read. But it’s hopeless in China. “Fair” is not in their vocabulary. You just have to pay the “tuition.”

  • hacienda


  • rightran

    Typical corrupt fine, juz to generate extra revenues for local traffic polic department (more precisely, heads of the department).
    Like some area of free ways in south china, speed limit suddenly fall to 40 or 50km/ph, resulting over 70% drivers receive the fine ticket afterwards.