Chinese Drivers Suck

Stephan Wilkinson
by Stephan Wilkinson
chinese drivers suck

As a Conde Nast Traveler writer, I drive all over the world. After reading Peter Hessler’s article in the November 26 issue of The New Yorker, I think I’ll give China a miss. Hessler’s adventure began at a Chinese driving school, where instructors teach drivers to start in second gear (first is too easy). The preferred clutch technique? Set the parking brake hard, shift into first, and let out the clutch whilst gunning the engine. “By the end of the day, you could have fried an egg on the hood,” Hessler reports. The writer passed his Chinese driving test by slowly driving 50 yards down a deserted street. Later, a Chinese friend banged-up Hessler's Jetta because he didn’t realize that the vehicle extended beyond the windshield. A Chinese passenger usurped the rear view mirror. “I’ll tell you what’s behind you,” he assured. On the road, headlights, windshield wipers and turn signals are almost never used; they’re considered a “distraction.” There’s lots more, but we now know why China accounts for three percent of the world’s cars– yet racks-up 21 percent of its traffic fatalities. They can’t drive.

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  • Ricky Spanish Ricky Spanish on Nov 28, 2007

    when I was in China, par for the course was the left hand turn from the far far right lane (across 3-4 other lanes of traffic) No signal required.

  • Yankinwaoz Yankinwaoz on Nov 28, 2007
    he truckers there like to leave their lights off at night to save fuel Weird. They do this in South America too. Guess it shows how cheap life is. Driving in Asia is an "experience". What does amaze me is how few accidents you see considering how people drive there. Every minute you witness the most amazing stunts that would, back in the US, cause a 20 car pile up. I can't help but think that Asian and Middle East drivers have lowered expectations of their fellow drivers. And they respond accordingly. It is a different mindset. They expect the others to do stupid things. It could be worse. Drive in India. They drive like maniacs on unsafe roads. But if you cause an fatality, you the driver stand a good chance of being pulled from the car and either killed or seriously injured by pissed off pedestrians.
  • BerettaGTZ BerettaGTZ on Nov 28, 2007

    yankinowaz: You are absolutely correct. It takes a different mindset. I lived and drove in China for 3 years and am alive to tell about it. You have to think of traffic flow like the red blood cells circulating through your arteries. Your body does not have stop signs or traffic lights. The blood cells just merge into whatever available space they can find in the busy flow of things. It takes a lot of guts to pull out in front of a car or cut someone off in the next lane, but in most cases they will slow down for you and road rage is pretty nonexistent. And as you said, you expect the guy in front of you to stop suddenly or swerve across 3 lanes, so you plan accordingly. A few things are actually good about Chinese drivers: they do not eat, drink, read, put on makeup, or yak on the cell phone while driving. To do so invites certain disaster. Interestingly, I've spoken to more than a few Chinese who've traveled to the US for business. They are absolutely terrified of driving on our roads.

  • Yankinwaoz Yankinwaoz on Nov 29, 2007

    I agree. I can't tell you how many Aussies I've met that refuse to even consider driving in LA. They find it very intimidating. Why? I have no idea. I tell them it is very easy... freeways most everywhere. Just pay attention to the signs and you can't get lost. Strange how other people think our roads are scary. Of course the news reports of having guns pulled on you get lots of play overseas.