There are very very few things that I dislike about Taiwan, and traffic happens to be one of them. I’ve always insisted the Taiwanese are very friendly and courteous, but once they step into the driver’s seat they suddenly become Jekyll and Hyde.
Vehicle drivers in Taiwan learn to drive and take their test within a training centre. By the time they pass their driving test they have no road experience at all. They are thrown into the deep end when they get on the road. They probably have little driving etiquette, and can’t handle road situations very well when there are real pedestrians and other road users around.
In my experience here, most drivers abide by the traffic lights, ie stop when the lights turn red as you should. However, a small number seems to think it is perfectly acceptable to make a final dash immediately after the lights have turned red.
Pedestrian priority on zebra crossing is even worse. I’ve learnt that when the pedestrian light turns green, don’t immediately cross the zebra crossing.There are always are bound to be the odd vehicle or a bunch of scooters who shoots out like an arrow to turn right ie cross your path. Most totally ignore any pedestrians that may be crossing the road as if they have a right over the pedestrians.
If I were given a £ for every car or scooter that I stopped for on the zebra crossing, I guess I could make at least £100 every month!
My other pet hate is when the bus has signalled right to stop at the bus stop, but scooters still zoom ahead and squeeze pass between the bus and the kerb. Perhaps the scooter drivers have been reading too many comic hero stories, and think they are invincible.
Sadly, as the video clip below shows, that’s not always the case. A word of warning, the video has some disturbing images.
Taiwan’s traffic accident statistics are notorious.
According to the National Police Agency, in 2015 there were over 305,000 accidents, which caused nearly 1700 deaths and over 410,000 injuries. Out of the deaths, 846 were on scooters. The death rate is even more astonishing when compared to other countries : 14 deaths per 100,000 population in 2012!
Taiwan is on the left in the graph below followed by USA, Japan, UK , France, Germany, Italy, Canada and South Korea.
So far I have resisted the urge to buy a car here, mainly because I’ve never driven on the right before. If I do in future, I’m sure I can get used to it, but what I can’t be so sure of is avoiding the reckless driving habits of others. Till then, I hope the driving habits will improve and the drivers become kind and courteous both inside and outside of their vehicles.
Surely, that isn’t too much too ask?