Over the years I have participated in my fare share of cultural diversity programs; learning about racial sensitivity, multi-cultural identities, and the fact that stereotypes are not based in truth. But after spending a year here in China, I have realized that there is one stereotype that is true. Asians are bad drivers. Well maybe not all, but at least most of the ones living inQinhuangdao.
I have been to many different places in the world andChinahas by far the worst drivers. The main problem is that no one follows any of the traffic laws, whether it is the drivers or the pedestrians.
The drivers here have many problems; the first is that they don’t wear seatbelts. When I first arrived here inQinhuangdao, I tried putting on my seatbelt and the cab driver yelled at me and told me not too. When I did try to put one on, there was so much dirt and soot on the seatbelts from it not being used that my shirt got all dirty.
Another problem with the drivers here is that they don’t really follow any laws. It seems like the traffic lights and signs are more of a recommendation. At some intersections there isn’t a traffic light so it turns into everyman for themselves. Cars constantly swerve in and out of traffic in an effort to avoid one another. As long as there is a bit of room they will try to work their way through.
Drivers also don’t follow the traffic lanes or signs. They make U-turns when they want, and even go into opposing traffic. There have many times I almost crapped my pants because my driver went into the opposing lane.
What really gets me upset is that drivers don’t turn on their headlights on. They drive as fast as possible with no headlights on. I’m surprised I haven’t been hit by a car yet.
In America, pedestrians have the right of way. While I am sure that is true here too, I have never seen it put into action. Cars stop for no one. When I was living inIsraelI experienced some crazy drivers, but I knew that they would always stop for a pedestrian (although it was always at the last moment). Here I am not so sure they would stop at all. There are many times I am crossing the street and a car would speed up. Trying to cross the road becomes an adventure in and of itself.
To tell you the truth I am not sure that there is much one can do to changeChina’s reckless driving culture. I only write this blog as a warning and as a precaution for those who want to visitChina. So when you do come toChina, watch out.