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Sep '09

The Craziest Thing About China

If I had to pick the one craziest thing about china, it would absolutely be the driving.

The roads where I am are absolutely insane. It’s complete madness.

I don’t care how long you’ve been driving in Canada, and how many people cut you off, how many close calls you’ve had , how many stupid maneuvers you’ve seen other drivers do, or how reckless people are… I’d be willing to bet that in one day of driving in China I’ve seen more crazyness than the entire cultivation of a lifetime of driving in Canada.

In China driving is all about inches. People come within inches of serious injury every few minutes of the drive. It’s really hard to describe the driving because there’s nothing I can relate it to. Imagine 3 lanes of traffic pulling U-Turns into 1 lane of traffic while there are two other lanes of cars coming… that’s completely normal. There’s never enough space for the cars to fit so people just squeeze and slam on their brakes and honk and somehow within inches manage to keep going.

It really seems like when the locals drive they only look forward and they do whatever they can to keep from slowing down. If there is any opening in the forward direction they will go for it, even if it means pulling into your lane as you’re driving next to them. When this happens you just honk at them and they stop coming over… it feels as if the strategy is to not bother looking and to just change lanes whenever you like… then if someone honks at you get back into your own lane. I think having a horn is a complete necessity to get from point A to B safely here. The large number of scooters doesn’t help either as they tend to fill up any small holes that would be left by normal driving.

There’s also no right of way for people on the streets. When you cross the road you have to make SURE there is no cars coming or turning where you’re going to walk. Even a stopped car will start driving as you’re walking in front of it, they just don’t care.

There’s so many accidents here every day, and the people riding bikes don’t usually fare so well. I’ve heard a few stories about dead bikers that were pretty graphic. I even saw one biker the other day with 5-6 propane tanks strapped to his bike… imagine the explosion if you ran into him!

The best part about all this crazy driving is that the Chinese drivers are completely unphased by it all. They seem pretty emotionless, as they drive. I’ve watched drivers slam on the brakes and hit the horn as someone turned in front of us without even as much as a frown. I guess it’s just so normal to them they don’t let it stress them out.

Oh and… to top it off, there’s a stipulation here that people who wear their seatbelts are “Obedient Citizens” that just do what their told. I’ll take the criticism with a smile as I buckle up!

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