In many nations, the style of driving quite accurately reflects the stereotypical temprement of the people. For example, in Italy the general style is probably best described as ‘hot-headed’, in Germany it is done with precision and speed. However, there really is no experiance quite like going for a drive in China.
The roads themselves are quite nice – few pot holes and other nasties, but part of the problem seems to be that anywhere that is paved is permissable for driving – it is generally safer to walk in the middle of the road than on the pavement as there are less cars there. Cars are only a small problem though when compared with the uncountable number of scooters and motorbikes around, however these are less dangerous as they can swerve quite easily. The worst has to be the busses and trucks which drive round everywhere and will stop for nothing.
The expreience of crossing a road is one which is to be avoided wherever possible, as one team-member remarked the other day as we were stranded in between 6 lanes of heavy, fast-moving traffic “the only safe way to cross a Chinese road is to take a plane”. Not only do you have to look to the direction you expect the cars to be coming from (ie the left and the right) but you also have to check in front for scooters or cars coming at you, and behind for scooters and other traffic which is trying to cross the road as well. It is quite ok for a bus to do a screaching U-turn which blocks off 5 lanes of traffic as long as there are a few inches of space for the rest of the traffic to keep moving by.
In addition to this, unlike in England where the presence of police seems to calm the traffic and make people watch the speed limit, the police themselves are catalysts in the general chaos that is the Chinese road. It seems to be the Chinese policy of actively encouraging dangerous driving – perhaps as an alternative means of population control.
Anyway, I’m off to go shopping now which entails crossing a mere 4-5 lanes of traffic (the lanes themselves are fluid – it’s simply as many cars as you can fit abreast), so if there are no more updates here you know what’s happened!