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Talk:Driving in China

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A picture says a thousand words so here are 20 pictures about driving in advice is don't unless you absolutely have to....

Loved 'em. Thanks Pashley 21:44, 11 May 2006 (EDT)

Funny how some people are naive enough to believe whatever they see. Its probably made by people who like to mock other countries.
To be honest, that kind of thing does happen relatively often.


Not sure where all this is coming from, drove in the mainland for over three years and it was a pleausre once you get used to the flow of things. Definitely not more dangerous than other jurisdictions by my observations and nighttime driving is just as fun as anywhere else.

Exactly. The description in the article is how things appear to those coming in from outside. Once you get used to the idea of traffic rules being optional (I kid, I kid, though there is a grain of truth in that) it's easy to get around.

What a lot of nonsense from you two above. As far as you are concerned, pedestrians are not a variable in this equation. The flow of "things" you refer to is equivalent to the flow of diarrhoea down the toilet pipe. Drivers in China are all a bunch of selfish motherfvckers who regard pedestrians as worthless pieces of excrement. In Beijing there are roads that are impossible to cross unless you take chances (which usually involves running across while cars are approaching fast). I wonder how old people cross roads here. In many places you have to wait up to 5 minutes for the lights to go RED so that the fvcking cars stop and pedestrians can cross; then pedestrians only get 30 seconds to make it. I am in my late twenties and 30 seconds is not long enough to cross certain wide roads. Plus, cars turning right don't need to stop, which means that there is never a time when pedestrians can cross without fear of being hit. Zebra crossings are only painted to use up surplus paint, or just because "if foreigners have them so should we". It is clear that the people who make the traffic rules in China are the ones who drive their fat rich assess in expensive cars and don't give a fvck about pedestrians or cyclists. If things look so peachy from your car, perhaps you should try not using it for a month and then come back here to post you findings. You may be surprised.

Surely you jest. I wonder where you were driving, because my opinion on the matter sure differs with yours. I am an excellent driver in Canada with the highest discount on my insurance. However, I would not even think about driving over here. It's taxis for me.

Me too from Canada, agree with the above. I would lose my driver's license in a day or less if I'd drive in Canada the same way as the best drivers in Yiwu, Zhejiang do. I however, fell in love with Chinese people, they are very friendly and helpful except when they are driving.

Are there age limits on driving? What are the minimum and maximum driving ages in China?

Where are the sources to back up all of this?[edit]

Not trying to put down the article but it would be wise to have references to support some of the claims. I know it would be difficult to find sources (even if you did, it would be in Chinese). But because this page is probably viewed by many people especially foreigners; what is said on this page maybe taken seriously. Any personal opinions and stereotypes would be included and mis-guide the general public.

Sorry anonymous, but I had to revert your changes (that template doesn't work on Wikitravel). If you check out other pages you'll see that we don't find it necessary to reference our information. Is there something in particular that you don't agree with in the article? If yes, please plunge forward and fix it. -- Fastestdogever 01:11, 2 May 2007 (EDT)
Suggested reading: Wikitravel:Be fair and Wikitravel:The traveller comes first. -- Sapphire(Talk) • 01:59, 2 May 2007 (EDT)


I have lived in Changsha for two years and drive an electric scooter. I found the article to be about the most accurate thing I've ever read on the Internet regarding anything about China. The article reads just like HOW IT IS here. It seemed completely familiar to me and I've forwarded the article to my friends as it describes a facet of Chinese life better than any other articles I read so far. I've no doubt there are better or more accurate articles about daily life in China, but I've yet to read them. This article even FEELS like China.

For what it's worth, having spent about six weeks in China last summer (2007), I find the characterization of driving in China is spot-on. Beijing was crazy. For example, I was in one cab where the driver, fed up with a long line of traffic, drove on the wrong side of a two-way street for about 200 yards before oncoming traffic forced him to merge back in. At intersections it would only take a half-dozen vehicles to cause a traffic jam, even in light traffic, because drivers would pull out into the intersection instead of waiting for the light to change. And waiting for a "walk" signal before crossing often seemed to be counterproductive (*especially* if there was a bus coming). Part of my trip was spent in Xi'an, which proved to be quite a bit saner, but still on the dangerous side. My advice is to try to sit in the back-seat when someone is driving you (otherwise you have to see what's going on). Or, just take the bus (dirt cheap, very frequent, and nobody messes with the buses).

If you really want an external source, this site says there are about 680 deaths each day because of car accidents in China. This is almost six times the number of people killed each day in 2005 in the United States. Car ownership per capita in China hasn't reached parity with the United States, which provides some evidence that unsafe driving behavior is very common in China.

I can testify to that sort of cab driving. I too was in a cab in Nanjing where the impatient driver decided to hop over the double-yellow line and cut in line at a red light. She was forced to merge back in by an oncoming bus that being bigger wasn't going to slow down for the cab...I almost jumped out of the passenger side window in terror. There were plenty of other crazy things...hopping up on sidewalks, turning across lanes of traffic, nearly clipping pedestrians, etc. Driving in China, at least in a larger urban area, is an activity best left to the intrepid. Surviving as a pedestrian in that melee is difficult enough as it is.

As cabs go I found the Beijing cabs utterly fearless, and Nanjing's almost as bad (luckily streets aren't big enough there to permit Beijing speeds), and Shanghai's fairly tame. Didn't go all the way down to Hong Kong, but being ex-British, I'd expect them to be excellent in comparison. I can't honestly say that I think the Chinese are bad driver's as they seem to have an uncanny ability to avoid a collision at the last possible instant--all the time, but I wouldn't say that they would inspire any peace of mind if I tried to get down the road. If I drove in a city there I can imagine being cut off by every impatient car on the street, each one barely clipping my front end.

The average driving population is by and large 'new' to driving. On the roads of the US there are a few teen drivers here and there sprinkled amongst an overwhelming number of drivers who have decades behind the wheel. Since accessibilty to car ownership is a recent phenomenon in China, almost all drivers are basically new to the wheel: a few may have ten years or so, most two/three or less. Ironically the more experienced drivers were used to having the then empty roads to themselves--bus drivers, truck drivers, cabs, drivers for party officials and party officials--and so these drivers are essentially reckless too, if maybe a little more practiced.

Compounding this is the fact that despite what most Americans think about China's rule of law, the average Chinese driver is blatantly dismissive of traffic policing and regulations--they know that they can do as they please and probably (the numbers being what they are) get away with it. If a PSB working the traffic directs a line of cars to stop or turn you can bet there will be a few who completely disregard him, even drive around him. I always marveled at that--I suppose those drivers all realize that statistically there is only a small chance if that they would get in trouble out of the number of offenders. The police never do anything about it as they're just too busy or don't care. If the average driver even knows anything about yielding right of way, traffic signals, and road markings they don't demonstrate it in their driving habits. I assume every driver just learns how to cope with all of the offensive driving by becoming more competently offensive themselves in their driving: the best defense is a good offense after all.

The general unwritten rule of thumb is that vehicles try to get away with as much as they possibly can without actually coming into contact with something. Opportunism is the name of the game. The only time one thing yields to another is when they are smaller of the two. Buses and semis can pretty much drive as they please because they are the biggest things on the street, and can do more damage to others than others can to them. Driving there analogous to walking quickly down a busy sidewalk--there aren't observed lanes or any observed rules...everybody is just doing their own thing, constantly weaving, going with the flow of the current, cutting where they can, trying to get where they're going, without a collision.

If I had to drive there I would not do so in the cities, cabs are cheap, and the cab drivers better than I could hope to be; their beautiful brand-new interstate system on the other hand seems made for long-distance driving. Oddly enough these seem very empty compared to their N American counterparts. I'd happily drive these express routes out in the rural areas. I've heard that on more secondary roads out in the country-side there will be people and livestock just milling around in the middle of the road.

The basic rule of the road[edit]

The main article says that it seems to be keep moving no matter what.

On this I disagree. It seems to me that it's anything is ok so long as it does not force an accident. You don't do something that gives the other driver no way to avoid an accident.

It's also amazing how different drivers behave when they know there is a cop about. As all traffic enforcement I have seen has been by cops on foot the drivers often don't know one is about.

However, to illustrate how bad it can be: I was crossing a street with the light. I was nearly hit by a bus. I saw the bus coming along in the left turn lane. I wasn't all that concerned about it as it was quite apparent the bus couldn't actually make a left turn at that moment, he was going to have to stop. He didn't stop--because he was making a right turn.

Is this entry becoming too moderate in tone?[edit]

Consider the following paragraph (emphasis added):

Unless you are used to Asian traffic, Chinese drivers in general will seem very dangerous, even insane or suicidal. To a newcomer, Chinese traffic appears to have no rules or, if there are rules, it seems they are neither followed nor enforced. In reality, of course, there are some rules; they are just very different from what most travelers are used to.

Why have so many qualifiers been added? Driving in Chinese is incredibly dangerous, not just for drivers and passengers, but for bicyclists and pedestrians too. While there have been many improvements, it used to be possible to get a license in China if you could drive a car in a straight line for 30 meters in an empty lot. Plenty of people on the road in China do not know basic traffic laws or simply do not care. Driving etiquette is generally minimal and often comes down to laying down the horn before pulling an illegal and dangerous maneuver such as driving down the sidewalk, going down the wrong way of the street, or entering a busy intersection when the light is red.

The driving situation in China does not just appear to be dangerous because of differences in cultural norms and perspectives. The driving situation in China absolutely is significantly more dangerous than the driving situation in much of the world. Couching the danger with less direct wording will not help prepare visitors for the risk they face when they travel to China.

I wrote that, trying to tone down warnings I thought were over the top. You're right; I went too far. I've now rewritten that paragraph. Pashley 00:10, 22 October 2008 (EDT)
The rewritten paragraph is much better. And it is accurate. I personally never saw a car accident in China during my stay there. Most drivers there are good at following the most important "don't hit anything and don't get hit by anything" rules.

Hi, I am in Changzhou atm, I just came up here from Macau, HK and GZ, I do agree with the photo satire, lol, it is effing crazy here, who ever is 1st, gets the right of way, errr....this does not include bikes, moped, pedestrians, but only equal sized cars....\i think hummers and full size suv's and cars with army plates are the exception to this group. Just a few hours ago we were in a cab and we were on a 6 lane road coming back to my inlaws place, the cabbie drove into oncoming traffic 2 lanes over into the wrong direction and you know whats funny, no one honked at him, they all just got out of the way because there was room to do so.

In all honesty, we have travelled quite a ways so far in the past 3 weeks and I thought I would see alot of accidents and mahem, but all I have seen so far is a little kid rolling down the street after he fell off the 3 wheeler bike with a piece of plywood roped onto the back somehow, that his mom was riding, along with grandma and about 4-5 other brother, sisters or friends all hanging onto something for the ride.

While I saw traffic signs indicating, or maybe suggesting speeds, and saying no horn, I can't recall seeing a single yield or stop sign. Maybe I just didn't recognize the format for them. But I suspect the Chinese don't have stop signs...just lights to control busy intersections. China doesn't seem to have the hierarchy of streets the US has...alleys, residential streets, feeder avenues/blvds, highways, and finally interstates. Over there it seems to be hutong alleys emptying out onto massive multilane roads; that's it.

What Rules ?[edit]

As I am considering the possiblity of driving on my next visit to China I thought I would have a look on Wiki to see what advice it could give me. Haha... I'm so glad that I'm not alone in what I think of Chinese driving !

On my previous visit my Chinese fiancee was in charge of all the travel arrangements (not least because she was the only one of us who had the faintest idea of where we were going), but she doesn't drive so we got about by airplane, bus, taxi, brother's car, office car (with office driver) etc etc or good old Shanks's Pony.

Arriving originally in Hong Kong, we had hardly got as far as Shenzhen on the bus and I was already starting to wonder what I was seeing.

By the time we had been to Guangzhou and finally arrived in Nanning I had come to the conclusion that there was actually only one "rule of the road" in China and that was that one stops at a red light.

Finally content with that, we were in a taxi going back to our hotel one day and, as we got to the junction by the hotel, both our taxi and the bus it was overtaking went clean through a red light !! That was it... I threw my hands up in the air in horror and said to my fiancee "I don't believe it ! You're all mad !"

We laugh about it, but hells teeth... even a Parisian taxi driver would do well to stay sane over there !

Perhaps the fact that an International Driving License isn't recognised in China at present is a blessing in disguise.