Confucius said: “Good medicine tastes bitter but is good for sickness, good advice is harsh on the ears but good for one’s well being.” What he’s saying is: although medicine doesn’t taste good, it can bring about healthiness; although some words don’t sound good, they can help us become better. Since Confucius said it like this, then let’s set aside our feelings, and look for some good medicine together. Today I am going to discuss China’s traffic problem.
People have one very bad fault, which is not paying attention to traffic lights when crossing the road. This is especially true in some smaller cities, where people are very likely to ignore the traffic lights. Even though the light is red, there are still people who will cross the road without waiting. This kind of behavior is called “running a red light.” Of course, running a red light is very dangerous. And so, you should take responsibility for yourself and avoid learning wrong behaviour.
In China, cars don’t ever give way to people. When cars drive through zebra-crossings they don’t usually slow down, but just drive straight through. So in China, zebra-crossings have almost no meaning. If you are walking across a zebra-crossing and have blocked a car’s path, the driver is likely to blow the horn to make you get out of the way. This is obviously very impolite. At these times all you can do is back up, then look both ways to make sure there are no cars. And only then can you walk across. One time when I came back from abroad and was driving my car, an elderly person was walking on the zebra-crossing in front of me. I tried stopping at the zebra-crossing, but the the driver behind me simply went crazy and endlessly blew his horn. There were also people passing me on both sides. And so, the elderly person still couldn’t go, and I couldn’t move, and brought about a traffic jam. With my good intentions I had made things worse. (This situation) makes one not know whether to laugh or cry.
When driving, Chinese will also often blow their horn, causing the inner-cities to be very noisy. When diving at night, many people will have their lights on high-beam, making it difficult for the eyes of the driver in front to bear. But Chinese people are used to these problems, and even at driving school, the instructor will often show them the wrong way to do some things. Because of these problems, Chinese traffic is rather chaotic. It’s no wonder that the writer of a trilogy of books on China, Héwěi (Peter Hessler) decided he must take the Chinese driver’s license test then drive himself, because he was worried that being a passenger in a car driven by a Chinese person might be even more dangerous.
What is your opinion in regard to these problems? If you encountered these problems, what would you do? What would you say to a Chinese friend?
by Zak Gray