Opinion Piece: Traffic accidents: How the Chinese cross the road

September 3, 2014


Crossing the road in a Chinese city sometimes feels a bit like stepping out in front of a firing range. Cars move slowly (for the most part) but drive inexorably forward, with scarcely a care for passing inconveniences such as pedestrians, bicycles, dogs or, indeed, other cars. There appears to be one guiding principle of driving: look straight ahead (glancing to the side or behind is cheating) and keep on going. A sudden nip to the left or right is quite acceptable, even if that necessitates slamming on the brakes to avoid a car that is merely driving in a straight line. China’s brake-pad peddlers would be raking it in if more people actually replaced them whenever new ones were needed.

Accidents are common for many reasons. Aside from the fact that China’s population is so large, most have to do with the fact that China is so new to the business of driving cars. In 2013 it added more cars to its roads than were driving in the whole country in 1999. In China, the number of vehicles has been increasing by 15 million cars every single year for a decade. The number of license-holders has risen even faster; one in five Chinese now has a license. In the rich world, by contrast, the number of license-holders is flat or falling.

Read the full article here.

Source: The Economist, 3 September

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