Beijing began a five-year action plan over the weekend aimed at cracking down on traffic violations and bad driving habits in a bid to ease the city’s worsening traffic situation.
Over the next five years, traffic police will crack down on drunk driving, running red lights, the illegal occupation of emergency lanes and bus lanes, driving without a license, and six other traffic violations. Bad driving habits, such as forcibly overtaking another vehicle and forcing it into another lane, will also be targeted.
Traffic in Beijing is horrible. I recall taking 45 minutes to travel 2 kms in a taxi. There are way too many cars on Beijing streets to travel efficiently. Still, cars that do move are dangerous. Traffic signals are ignored if there is no police on site. People park their cars everywhere, blocking whomever they wish. It seems that there is a blatant disregard for the safety and convenience of others. I suppose if you do not know someone else personally, you have no personal connection (guanxi), and therefore no need to be cordial.
- Driving is relatively new: Yes, in China the ability to drive is very new, only within the last 10 years. New drivers lack skill. That get a driver’s license from Hong Kong are excellent drivers, and those that fail migrate to Toronto and get an Ontario driver’s license. Many from Mainland China do not have a drivers license from China, so this is their first time driving here in Toronto.
- Driving is a status symbol: It seems like when Chinese migrate to Toronto from China one of their goals is to get the largest vehicle possible. Maybe this is to brag to those back in China that they are financially well off? Unfortunately these large vehicles are more difficult to drive. These new drives drive so poorly that they become a hazard to everyone else on the road.
- Driving rules are not enforced: This is true both in China and Toronto. Bad driving is applicable to all drivers here in Toronto. If police would enforce existing laws there would be better overall driving habits, but even the police break the laws.