The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

5 June 2005

Road kill blues

The Chinese automotive market is now the world's third largest, ahead of Germany and closing in on Japan. China, however, is not any kind of driver's paradise, and Ian Hamet turned conjured up this paragraph in The Misanthrope's Guide to Shanghai which is even more unsettling:

The average Chinese driver has less than five years' experience behind the wheel. One might infer this to mean that the average Chinese driver is, psychologically, a cocky teenager or early twenty-something with a chip on his shoulder, something to prove, and a residual hatred of daddy and all his stupid "rules" and "regulations". Such an inference, however, is hopelessly pollyannish and naive.

I was just about ready to snicker at this when I caught this in The Economist:

Acquiring a driving licence is not difficult. Although a learner has to undergo 70 hours of training over two months, it is hard to fail the test. Ill-paid examiners are readily bribable, with the instructors acting as middlemen and taking their own cut. Many cars on city streets display notices saying "New driver, please look after me". The plea is in vain. The death rate on China's roads is the highest in the world: 680 die and 45,000 are injured every day, according to the World Health Organisation, compared with around 115 deaths a day in far more motorised America.

Suddenly I don't feel so apprehensive about driving in Massachusetts (!) this summer.

Posted at 9:06 AM to Driver's Seat

Durnit, I've got to be more clear about when I'm joking. There is no "Misanthrope's Guide", it's just a list of my gripes and complaints about living here. The less than five year stat is real, the rest is my own creation.

Posted by: Ian Hamet at 12:34 AM on 6 June 2005

I have made a minor adjustment to the text to reflect this, um, revelation. :)

Posted by: CGHill at 4:03 PM on 6 June 2005