After I drive back to home at 12:23 AM and check my blog, I saw many comments – comments from really concerned people. Calm down, please.
This is not the first time I saw this kind of situation. So take a break and let me try to explain it better. Shockr, thanks for your point. That helps a lot.
I Do Follow Rules
I did an evaluation, and believe I am absolutely the top 5% drivers who follow the rules most. Seriously. There is no question about it.
I reviewed my last post, and it seems I broke every rules. Wrong impression.
Believe it or not, I am the kind of person who stopped at a broken red light at deep night (11:00 PM) for 15 minutes on my way home, and later was interviewed by TV because of it I believe I follow the rules much better than most people, including expats, in Shanghai. Don’t get me wrong about it.
I learnt a lot during my driving experience from U.S. and Australia – frankly speaking, that experience helped me a lot to under how the traffic rules should work. As you can imagine, I feel I am driving under the spotlight most of the time (as my life is on Internet, and I am trying very hard to do the right thing), so I follow the rules.
Before I continue, let me correct some misunderstanding in the comments:
- I always yield to pedestrians, always!
- I pass by zebras slowly and with great care, always.
- I stop at stop sign, when it is not dangerous to do so.
- I respect speed limit, when it is possible.
What I was trying to communicate in my previous post was, there are limited but real situations that I cannot follow the rule.
Situation #1: The rule is correct, but by following the written rule, I am putting the life of myself or other drivers at danger. (I know many people don’t believe that this situation ever exist in the world. “Follow the rules is the only safe way to do it!”)
Situation #2: The rule itself is the wrong rule.
About Turning Right at Red Light
For this part, I have to make it more clear, since I found the statement in my last post misleading. The reasons I gave (resources v.s. demand) was to justify Why it is Allowed to Turn Right at Red Light instead of Why drivers don’t give way to pedestrians. I hate drivers who didn’t show any respect to pedestrians, as a driver and as a pedestrian. That is what I was talking about in many posts. I said, it is still not practical to BAN any right turn in Shanghai as Europe is doing now. Anyone tell me why in many countries (including U.S.), it is allowed to make right turn at red light? I was a strong advocator for banning the right turn before, but after talking with transportation experts, I was convinced that it is not realistic in the current situation.
What I am talking about – in a frank matter – was, to wait for all pedestrians to leave the zebra is also just impossible at certain intersection (not all）. It takes, as one commenter said, hours for the road to clear up. The most troublesome problem I have is, even if I stop, people still yield to me, and we run into a situation of dead lock. That was really bad situation. So, in this situation, the way people do is to wait for the first round of people to pass, and see the space, and then the cars go, and then pedestian.
Anyone been to Cambodia? The traffic of the whole country worked (although not well) without any traffic light! (Just a few on the road of capital). I don’t think traffic light is the only way for a peaceful transportation.
What to do with the Bad Rule?
Then there is another situation that people not driving in Shanghai may not face: when the traffic rule is the wrong rule and it causes great danger to traffic. “Is there any situation that you are not able to follow the rules?”. That is the point. Read about my last entry and find out some situations.
For the speed limit and the stop sign, I have to say, the rule or the sign were badly designed. The statement of “Always follow the rule” is incomplete, since it is in the situation where the rule is the right rule.
One commenter mentioned the Nazi example. Really good people don’t follow the rule set by Nazi, just as I don’t follow the censorship rule in China government. I break the bad rule and do the right thing. Traffic rules are completely another thing than the Nazi rules. I know that, but think about a traffic sign that is improperly designed. Just as I sad, how many minutes would you wait at a broken (always on) red light? I waited 15 minutes. How about you? 30? One hour before a broken red light? What I did was to call the police, call the media, and to make some small impact. Still remember that I called almost everyone to fight against typo in Metro? Talking is easy, as everyone in the last post did.
In current China, due to well-know political reasons, there are huge number of bad rules. To build a better world, people need to use the right rule to replace the bad rule. This is what many people are doing.
On day, when I was thought about the ethics, I even asked myself, do I want to do something to have 4 collisions per month just to proof that I follow the rules? People’s life (including mine) or rule, which is, in practice, more important? What is the final value of a rule? I completely see where people come from, and in most places, to follow the written rules means safety. If you firmly believe so, you should go to see certain circumstances that it is conflicting. Just as Google’s don’t do evil rule works great in most places, but in China, because of the Great Firewall, it is against user experience. It is a hard problem to answer, and I am deeply disappointed that Google is trying to solve user experience issue and give up it value. Hehe.
I am so blessed to be able to sit in the middle of the conflict of the two cultures (western and eastern), so most of the cultural conflict results in an inner mind conflict inside me. This gave me a chance to see the world even better.
To conclude, if you can find out any driver who show respect to pedestrians and follow rules when possible, we can drive together, and I am sure I am doing a better job than he/she does. After writing so many articles about traffic problem in Shanghai and thought about it for 4 years, I still know what to do. Just keep this in mind, and then see the real situation we are facing everyday. What I want to do is to present the real situation every driver in Shanghai will face, and thus people can understand the situation much better than what the text book tells.
Keep all the criticism coming. It seems everyone just pouring all the frustration about bad traffic to someone who stand up first and claim “I don’t always follow rules”. Don’t worry. I share the same frustration, and the point is, what we can do about it. Me? I think it is my responsibility to bring the topic to everyone’s attention so we can discuss about it.