China police hot-wire sleepy drivers with chili

Wed Mar 11, 2009 3:25am EDT
 
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BEIJING (Reuters) - Police in southwest China are spicing up drivers with raw chili in a bid to stop them falling asleep at the wheel, a newspaper said on Wednesday.

Police in the Chongqing region have started serving drivers chili peppers at highway service stations, holding to the traditional Chinese belief that people often feel more sleepy in the Spring, the Chongqing Evening News said.

Most of the drivers are from neighboring Sichuan, Yunnan and Hunan provinces, where chilies are a local favorite, it added.

"It's really good to have some hot peppers when you are tired from driving," van driver Chen Jun was quoted by the newspaper as saying. "They make you alert."

China's roads have long been among the most dangerous in the world due to overloaded and speeding trucks and drivers who switch lanes without signaling and often ignore traffic lights.

(Reporting by Beijing newsroom)