I got a real good look in the mirror today, not a pretty sight.
When I am out on my scooter I am like an unofficial traffic cop. I shake my head, honk my horn, and sometimes yell at people who flagrantly flout the traffic laws here in Taichung. Then today I am in the school bus, when the driver performs a somewhat illegal move. He turned across 5 lanes of traffic on a red light. As this was happening I saw a chubby westerner riding pillion, shaking his head vehemently and wagging his fat finger. “Oh my god, thats what I do” i realised with disgust. I realised how futile his actions were, and promptly vowed never to do such a thing again.
My question is: Do any of you drive around like vigilante law makers, pointing, honking and tutting at other drivers?
I got a real good look in the mirror today, not a pretty sight.
Patterson, I know the futility of which you speak. I too am a tubby finger-waving (sometimes middle finger waving) scooter driving foriegner on the mean streets of Taichung.
I intellectually know that no matter what I do here no one will change the way they drive. But it still makes me angry and having a low EQ, I must express my exasperation at times. It’s always more for my mental health than it is for the other guy.
Nice post Patterson, I too gave up the finger wagging a few years back, in my opinion it’s a least partly to reaching a level of understanding and accepting a foreign culture.
Could it be that all the horn honking going on in Taiwan is actually caused by all the foreigners?
I know I do my fair share.
I gave up on the finger…Got into too much trouble with it.
My wife constantly complains about my driving comments, but it’s a hard habit to break even after 18 years on the Island…
I got rear-ended the week before last. Jumped out of my truck with my atypical WTF? getting ready to explode from my lips. Somehow it didn’t come out, which might be a good sign of acceptance of the inevitable fact that no matter how much I scream and curse it’s not going to change a damn thing.
Or, the sheer pleasure of seeing my trailer hitch embedded in her engine block gave me enough satistaction to refrain myself…
Twice in the last few months I had a foreign scooterist give me the finger. One was passing on the wrong side of the road while approaching an intersection, the other was going through an uncontrolled crossing so slowly I just went through first since she looked like she was going to stop.
The first was giving me the finger and trying to slap my car at the same time, which was pretty dumb considering our combined speeds. I turned and went back to ask wtf his problem was, but he started doing circles to escape until I stopped the car and got out to show I was also a bignose. Our hero decided not to discuss the matter and sped off instead.
The second one I just stopped at the side of the road and waited to see if she wanted to take things any further, and she was reckless enough to come up to a car she had flipped off, was probably not sure who the occupants were, and it was dark at the time. She thought I’d failed to give way, which I had, but I explained to her that in Taiwan the bigger vehicles always have right of way, and she was going so slow she would have had to accelerate in order to actually have a collision with me. Well, she quickly told me that she’d been here for 5 years and knew it all. I told her I’d been driving here for 15 years, and if she could only afford a clunky old scooter after 5 years of teaching English in Tai\chung she should probably consider a career change. That closed that conversation, but I do hope she stops flipping off strangers in traffic, and if that’s not possible, at least learn from the first guy and make a run for it when the driver wants to discuss things further…
Don’t flip off anyone you are not prepared to fight or don’t have the speed/skills to outrun. I’ve probably put three or four people in hospital over the years in road-rage incidents, but I started to keep a lid on it after I got married. It just isn’t worth it. I know countless foreigners who’ve been severely beaten in traffic altercations.
I think that common sense should dictate how one drives and common manners should dictate how one reacts when an accident happens.
I have had only one “major” accident since I have been driving my scooter in Taiwan. A woman made an illegal turn in front of me and I was unable to stop so I crashed into the back end of her BMW. We were both quite shaken up and we both apologized to each other and drove away. Yes, it was not my fault and the scooter I was riding got somewhat damaged but at least nothing more came of it than that.
I don’t give people the finger, or challenge others while driving because I don’t want troubles while I live in this country. Yes, some Taiwanese people are terrible drivers but so are some Americans who live in the states. Let’s just all be careful and hopefully we can all have a peaceful life in Taiwan.
Good advice from both posters…Just wish I’d reformed sooner
I have a friend up here who has a horrific temper when driving and rather limited pugulistic skills. About three years ago he was driving out of the parking lot in Taimall (Taoyuan) and was cut off by a BMW. Words on both sides flew, and my friend in a fit of rage, stuck his head into the car and grabbed the driver. What he didn’t see were the four other passengers, who proceeded to pummel him with everything from cellphones to fists to feet. He took stitches and had to have eye surgery…Not a smart move.
I’ve been in three fights in 18 years, all resulting from traffic disagreements. All in my favor, but never any satisfaction gained.
Please for your own safety, turn the other cheek…Or bitch to yourself with the windows up…That’s what I do
I haven’t blown my horn once in Taiwan. I just go with the flow. I never gave anyone the finger back in the U.S. so I don’t do it here either.
Funny enough, I AM a traffic cop 5 days a week…
When my daughter was in 2nd grade, they opened a new exit for her elementary school. The parents, in their rush to pick up their kids would double and triple park right in front of it. The kids not only couldn’t see across the busy street, but the crossing guards couldn’t either. After seeing several near misses, I complained to the principal. He looked me straight in the eye and asked me if I was willing to do something about it.
That was 4 years ago. So, everyday from 3pm to 3:30, I don my volunteer cap, vest and whistle and head for the street. If you think the parents habits can’t be changed, guess again. I have designated spots for scooters, senior citizens, Bushiban buses and cars. No one EVER parks in my yellow zone, and I’ve gotten several commendations from the Yangmei school district for having the safest crosswalk in town. I enjoy this to no end, and feel, at least in my small orb, that some change has been made…
That’s the greatest thing I’ve heard all day! You rock!
Badass. Good on you. Direct action gets the goods.
Good for you Michael. That’s a great thing to do.
The part I enjoy the most is that no one in her school thinks it’s unusual…I feel I blend in better there than anywhere else.
I’m just another parent trying to help out, nothing more, nothing less.
But, I carry the whistle with me into the mountains, because every time I go up I run into a traffic jam involving buses and one driver too stupid to yeild…On go the whistle and stop flag, and the obstacle is usually cleared in less than two minutes… Crazy as it seems, again nobody thinks that this is the least bit unusual. On Bei hen during weekends, I will do this on the average of twice per journey. Nobody is ever sarcastic, and seem to genuinely appreciate the effort…Well they should, the last time the bottleneck had lasted a full 40 minutes before I showed up! All over a 20 meter section of road and one driver who just wouldn’t move.
I like to do my part, however silly wherever I live…
This is a very good way to get one’s ass kicked. I recommend desisting.
For all their road skills (tight parking, seeing the gap, mind-reading the other driver), Taiwanese drivers have a flagrant disrespect for their their fellow road users.
It’s a chinese culture thing, innit? Love those whom you have a relationship with, but bugger the rest!
I’m increasingly pissed off with their errant driving. Maybe because I just got knocked off my scooter.
So when then the time comes, I will have ‘words’ with driver. Perhaps I or he/she will limp away a bit battered, but I will let it be known that he/she drives like a c**t.
If I’m able to walk that is…
After showing the finger to a truck driver who nearly run me over with his contruction truck he showed me his … sledgehammer. Trying to refrain from doing this now.
[color=indigo]Why you should stop at red lights and give way to pedestrians.
Not sure if this is , It doesn’t look gory although the site is famous for showing gory accidents.
Funny how other countries make a big deal of this sort of picture, while in Taiwan it is an everyday occurance.[/color]
I used to do this all the time in the city. It always seemed useless though, as even if I would talk pretty loud, they would never pay attention (sometimes too busy lighting a cigarette).
But then a few weeks ago my gf and I were driving our car in Keelung. We did nothing wrong (a 3-point turn) but for some reason a fat, blonde, American guy swerved around us on his scooter and hatefully shouted “idiot”. What pissed me off even more is that neither he, nor the 3-year old girl on his lap, were wearing helmets. What a fucking cocksucker.
It did give me a taste of how pathetic I must sound, though, and since then I have managed to contain myself. I still use my horn, though- people shouldn’t be shy about using this. It will save your life.
Badass. Good on you. Direct action gets the goods.[/quote]
Quite a contrast to the official (or semi-official, anyway) traffic control guys on the extensive roadworks along the road to my workplace in Tainan county last year.
There were quite long sections of single lane, “controlled” at both ends by a guy with a high-vis vest, flag, and radio.
Anywhere else I’ve been (even Ireland, FFS!) these guys would run the single-lane one way in alternating directions for say 5-minutes at a time, co-ordinating with their radios.
Here they do it differently…
They do nothing. Free-for-all, mid-section face-offs between trucks, fun for all the family.
Grumbled at this while in a (stuck) car with a Taiwanette and was told that was a stupid idea. (IDEA?!!) If they did that they’d be RESPONSIBLE for any accident that happened.
I suggested they were responsible NOW because they weren’t doing THEIR JOBS. It got quite acrimonious.
Three wise Taiwanese.
See no evil, Hear no evil, and do fuck all