Stereotypes DRIVE Me Crazy!

Posted by Grace Honig on 4/24/2017

Chinese people are terrible drivers. We've all heard this at least once in our lives, however now that I live in China and have to weather an hour drive to school every morning, I can confirm that this statement is far from the truth. 

Having lived in America my whole life up until now, and having grown up with Newton's clearly painted lanes, relatively small amount of pedestrian/bike traffic, and peaceful car rides rarely tainted with blaring car horns, the streets of Beijing were a bit of a slap in the face. "You're in the big city now." The tired stripes of previously white, now stained-grey lane paint serve as mere embellishment to Beijing drivers, and to be perfectly honest I've yet to find a speed limit sign. There's no stopping for pedestrians, bikers are pretty much just speed bumps, and a firm hand never wavering from the car's horn is a must. Swerving around an accident and performing risky maneuvers towards oncoming traffic that would make any 外国人(wai guo ren -  foreigner) audibly gasp is an every day affair. Throw in a disapproving shake of the head accompanied by a muttered swear, and you're a true Beijinger ruling the road. Now I know what you're thinking. It sounds like the stereotype is true with all this recklessness and chaos! Well let me put it this way: Beijing driving is controlled chaos, and with the amount of drivers on the road, and subpar road conditions, the fact that I've only gotten into (mum, dad, don't freak out) 1 very, very, very small car accident is beyond me. I've decided it's because Chinese drivers simply just know what they're doing. They know they need to get from point A to point B, and they know that they want to get there now. It's a very simple mindset and one that's shared among what seems to be every driver in the city. Chinese drivers are fantastic because they can see three moves ahead. They know what car is going to try to switch lanes, and when, so of course the obvious thing to do it speed up so that they can't. I never said they weren't aggressive drivers. And yes though I pass an accident about once a morning, I feel as though the total number of cars on the road have to be taken into consideration. At red lights cars are already packed so closely together due to the sheer amount of them, even the most careful driver could move an inch too far and bump the back of the car in front of it. Most of the accidents that I've seen have been caused by exactly that. Small slip ups that I don't believe translate into those people being bad drivers, though I'm sure insurance companies would disagree with me. And by no means am I saying that there are no bad drivers in China. Actually, the driver that caused the accident I was in (mum, dad, again I promise it was really small there wasn't even any damage on the cars), decided to start driving in reverse on the highway and backed right into us. I still don't understand why she felt that was a good idea, but that's beside the point.

Thought it's the unpopular belief in America, I'm here to say that Chinese drivers are fantastic. The stereotype of them being anything but top notch should be dropped because in all honesty it's just making American drivers look worse. The skill of an American driver pales in comparison to that of a Chinese driver. If the amount of people on the road and the road conditions were duplicated in America, there would be a nationwide pileup no doubt. Chinese drivers are the kings and queens of the road. They know it, and it's time we realized it too. Make way for China. 

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