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LAST WORDS: Rules of the Road
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Rules of the Road

(A Take on Big City Traffic Culture)
By Demi Guo
BT 201805 Last 03      对于很多刚到中国的外国朋友来讲,如果能自己开车游览整个城市是一件多么酷的事情,但是即便是取得了中国驾照,等到真正上路行驶的时候却发现中国的交通路况和想象的不太一样,今天我们就来聊一聊在中国日常驾驶中需要注意的一些安全事宜。首先, 不要以为“车让人”的礼让情况会在所有道路上出现。在很多大城市中,汽车的行驶速度非常快,如果你步行走在马路上,一定要看清路况再前行,谨防汽车突然从你前方驶过。如果你是驾驶员,那么在开车时要非常关注车辆周围的行驶路况,因为有一些车可能会在不提前打灯预告的情况下突然变道,这往往会导致交通悲剧的发生。其次,在大城市行车的话,交通堵塞就成为了你的家常便饭。如果你有非常重要的约会,最好提前出门,或者选择时间更加靠谱的轨道交通(比如地铁)出行。另外,对于一些没有监控的路段,或执法不严的地区,交通状况可能会更加堪忧,时常会出现乱行车的情况,所以在此提醒各位朋友,出门在外,行走开车一定要更加注意安全。

Kyle just arrived in Shanghai for a new job and a new life! The first thing he did was take the Chinese computer-based knowledge test, so he could get a driver’s license and drive around in the big city. How cool that would be! When Kyle just got his driver’s license and was walking out of the public security building, suddenly a car honked at him. What’s going on? Why is the car on the sidewalk? Can the car honk at passer-bys like this? The test didn’t mention that at all!
 

You may have similar questions if you happen to experience this kind of thing, especially in big cities like Shanghai. So what on earth are the rules of the road in big cities in China?

BT 201805 Last 02Continue reading to find out!

First of all, don’t assume that all cars will yield for pedestrians. Most of time if you are walking across a street without traffic lights, and a car is coming, you’d better stop. If there are no signs or lights telling the driver to stop or slow down, there’s no chance they will just let you walk right out in front of them, at least without blaring their horn for a good 5-10 seconds if you do actually start walking across the street.
 

Secondly, be very mindful of your surroundings when you are driving, because cars tend to change lanes and/or pass others at any given moment, without hesitation or warning, especially on the highway. In big cities, you may not be able to enjoy the fun of driving as much as you want. People are busy running around and it’s easy to lose patience when driving. It’s actually quite common in big cities for people to change lanes whenever possible, meaning if there’s room for a car to pass you, just assume that they will pass you.
 

When driving in big cities, you really just have to assume that any car, at any point in time, will pass you, even if there’s just enough room for them to get in front of you. Also, the lines in the middle of the road are really just for example - cars tend to jump in the middle of lanes until they reach a point where they can pass others. Police won’t really do anything about this either, since it is a common practice amongst most drivers in big cities.
 

BT 201805 Last 04Thirdly, don’t expect that on any given day, you can get to and from the same places in the same amount of time; traffic jams are more than a common occurrence, and you can’t control red lights or traffic. Traffic jams also seem to find those who actually need to be somewhere, it’s kind of like a bad omen to rush out of your home and get in the car, expecting to make it to wherever you’re going in a certain amount of time. If you have important appointments to make or you’re going to be late for work, you’d better check the traffic situation before you leave and make the decision to drive that day or take a taxi.
 

Obviously the easy solution is to take the subway, which is the preferred choice for those on strict time schedules, or just can’t stand traffic jams and traffic culture in Chinese big cities, since the subway doesn’t suffer from traffic jams.
 

Last but not the least, the main rule of the road is that there are no rules! Traffic in Chinese big cities doesn’t really adhere to any standard rules or regulations because there are so many people and cars running around. Even if public security does set a list of rules for people to follow, there are so many different situations happening every day that it‘s impossible to handle or keep up.
 

Chinese people are used to dealing with this ‘organized chaos’, and as long as they don’t incur any property damage, they tend to be very ok with whatever happens, even the police. More often than not, police don’t want to deal with the trouble of a little fender bender, if both parties decide to fix it themselves, and just pay a little compensation. This fact makes it even more chaotic, because there are definitely regular collisions between cars, buses, taxis, bikes, motor scooters every day, but once again, this is just a part of big city life in China, and won’t change any time soon.

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