Road rules

For­eign­ers in China ex­press their opin­ions about lo­cal driv­ers

Global Times – Metro Beijing - - FRONT PAGE - By Du Qiong­fang

Statis­tics from the Shang­hai Mu­nic­i­pal Com­mis­sion of Econ­omy and In­forma­ti­za­tion show that ac­cu­mu­lated open road tests for in­tel­li­gent con­nected ve­hi­cles in Shang­hai, which started March 1, lasted 130 hours and cov­ered 3,000 kilo­me­ters with­out a sin­gle traf­fic vi­o­la­tion or ac­ci­dent oc­cur­ring, thep­a­per.cn re­ported on April 17. This shows a step for­ward in China’s de­vel­op­ment of an un­manned ve­hi­cle in­dus­try.

But for for­eign­ers from coun­tries where the au­to­mo­bile in­dus­try is al­ready highly de­vel­oped, what are their at­ti­tudes to­ward un­manned au­to­mo­biles and how do they feel about Chi­nese driv­ers in gen­eral? The Global Times in­ves­ti­gates.

Pierre Maruzzi from France drives an au­to­matic trans­mis­sion sedan in his home coun­try. He looks for­wardd to one day hav­ing a pi­lot­less au­to­mo­bile. “I want to watch movies while I go some­where,” Maruzzi said.

Steve Walker from the UK drives an au­to­matic trans­mis­sion SUV. He also looks for­ward to un­manned au­to­mo­biles be­cause he hopes he can get work done while he is com­mut­ing.

How­ever, John Smith and Mag­gie Smith from Aus­tralia, who drive a man­ual-trans­mis­sion sedan, do not look for­ward to un­manned cars. “Be­cause I am wor­ried it wouldn’t work well enough to be safe,” Mag­gie Smith said. John Smith added that there are a lot of is­sues that have to be ad­dressed be­fore un­manned cars are put into prac­ti­cal use.

Re­fer­ring to driv­ing safety is­sues in Shang­hai, sev­eral for­eign­ers men­tioned reck­less taxi driv­ers. “They think that be­cause they have a li­cense they are ex­pe­ri­enced, so that they can do as they like rather than think,” John Smith said. But the cou­ple, who have only been in Shang­hai for three days, have yet to see an ac­ci­dent.

Re­spect­ing the rules

Pierre Maruzzi thinks Chi­nese driv­ers do not fol­low the rules, and Bernard Maruzzi thinks Chi­nese driv­ers don’t care about pedestrian safety, us­ing a mo­tor­cy­cle ac­ci­dent they wit­nessed in Bei­jing as an ex­am­ple.

Walker thinks Chi­nese driv­ers are “crazy,” but he has yet to see or ex­pe­ri­ence any ter­ri­ble ac­ci­dents since ar­riv­ing in Shang­hai just four days ago.

Alexan­dra Jolly from Bel­gium thinks Chi­nese driv­ers don’t re­spect the rules as much as peo­ple in Europe do. But she thinks it seems to work out for Chi­nese peo­ple, as she did not see any ac­ci­dents here.

“The wayy Chi­nese peo­ple use the car horn is very dif­fer­ent from us,” said Jolly’s friend Olivia Bally, who is also from Bel­gium. “In Europe we only use the horn when we are up­set. In China, horns are used for warn­ing pedes­tri­ans that a car is com­ing. That’s some­thing I found very in­ter­est­ing,” Bally told the Global Times.

Tra­cie Monk from the US told the Global Times that she and her mother had a very bad in­ci­dent in Shang­hai in March. As her 90-yearold mother stepped out of their taxi, the driver sud­denly drove off, drag­ging the el­derly woman on the ground.

“She in­jured her­self badly, and had to spend a day in bed be­cause she was bleed­ing. It was very bad,” Monk said, adding that with the ex­cep­tion of Chi­nese taxis, the av­er­age driver in Shang­hai seems to be safe.

Driver train­ing

Alex from the Ukraine ac­tu­ally thinks that Chi­nese driv­ers are too slow. “There are a lot of cars in Shang­hai be­cause the pop­u­la­tion is re­ally big. They are driv­ing care­fully here. I saw one ac­ci­dent which was not with a car but a bi­cy­cle,” said Alex, who has beeen in Shang­hai for two years. “In my coun­try, they try to save timme, so they drive very fast.” Most of our for­eign in­ter­viee­wees re­ceived for­mal driver traain­ing in their own coun­tries. Maag­gie Smith learned in Lon­doon and John Smith in Bris­banne, Aus­tralia. Monk learned to drive on a ranch in Texas by praac­tic­ing with a trac­tor. Pierre Maruzzi, who learned to ddrive in Canada, thinks a dri­iver who has just grad­u­ate­dated from a driv­ing school feels “afraid and in­se­cure on the streets.” Both Jolly and Bally, who learned driv­ing in Brus­sels, used “danger­ous” to de­scribe those who re­cently grad­u­ated from driv­ing school. Walker called them “care­less.” Alex from the Ukraine said his fa­ther taught him how to drive. “But Shang­hai is a re­ally big city. It’s re­ally hard to drive here.”

Re­pairs and main­te­nance

So how do for­eign driv­ers main­tain their ve­hi­cles?

John Smith said that he can re­pair his own car to a de­gree, and change a tire or the oil by him­self. He said that as most Chi­nese used to ride bi­cy­cles, which they had to re­pair them­selves, and he is sure the av­er­age Chi­nese driver can also fix their own car, ex­plain­ing that the ba­sic prin­ci­ples of re­pair­ing a car and a bi­cy­cle are very sim­i­lar.

Alex said he can only change tires and oil. Walker knows a lit­tle about re­pair­ing his car, but he thinks Chi­nese driv­ers must know more than him. “I’m sure they can do ev­ery­thing.”

Al­though Monk does not know how to fix her car, she said her hus­band does. She can change tires by her­self, but not oil. “You can’t change it your­self be­cause you have to take it to a fa­cil­ity to get re­cy­cled,”” Monk said.

Monk thinks Chi­nese peo­ple prob­a­bly are not able to fix or re­pair their own cars. “Most of the cars that we’ve seen here are very mod­ern, which have com­plex com­puter sys­tems. So it’s very dif­fi­cult. Much bet­ter to take the car to a me­chanic who puts it into a com­puter. You can work on old cars, but not new cars,” Monk said.

Bernard Maruzzi, who works for a car com­pany, doesn’t think most Chi­nese can re­pair cars, only bi­cy­cles and sc no idea if Chi­nese peopl cars, Bally thinks it is the where young girls her age are not able to re­pair cars.

At the end of in­ter­view, the for­eign­ers shared their views about what are the best skills a driver should have. John and Mag­gie Smith think aware­ness, con­sid­er­a­tion and cour­tesy for other driv­ers and pedes­tri­ans are im­por­tant. Monk thinks a driver should be ob­ser­vant and not dis­tracted. “Don’t use your phone while driv­ing,” she em­pha­sized. Pierre Maruzzi and Bernard Maruzzi think the best skill a driver should have is at­ten­tive­ness.

Jolly and Bally said aware­ness and pa­tience are im­por­tant; Alex agrees. “And be very care­ful. Never drive too fast. Just at the right speed,” Alex said.

Photo: VCG

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