Chinese roads; life on the edge.


Ten people have been killed, and another forty-three injured as two buses collided in a head-on just outside Hechi city in Guangxi province. It is reportedly the second major accident in as many days, with another accident (also a head-on) between a bus and a truck a day earlier – the truck having been travelling on the wrong side of the road.

While this isn’t exactly an uncommon news event, with hundreds of similar incidents reported world-wide on a daily basis, I can say from experience that I do not miss the roads of China, in any way shape or form.

 Chinese drivers have a tendency to focus on getting to their destination. Little things such as obeying the speed limit and staying in ones lane are just hindrances in the grand scheme of things. Whilst I was never actually involved in an accident in China, it was something in which I was genuinely fearful, namely due to the Chinese drivers inability to follow the road rules. The image of a smoking bus wreck on the side of the road on my last drive to Shanghai was a vivid reminder of the potential dangers.

While taxis are always a mixed basket of driver quality, I would not have expected bus and truck drivers to be as reckless. I would often watch trucks drift aimlessly between lanes, whether due to tiredness or inattentiveness I was not sure. Bus drivers would likewise not only exceed the limit, but pass other vehicles dangerously, where it was more important for them to get further along the road, than the well-being of the passengers they carried.

I was both surprised and alarmed that most buses were fitted with electronic devices which detected police vehicles. On a long distance ride from Chengdu to Le Shan, I was curious to learn the origin of a particular beeping which seemed to be coming from the driver’s dashboard. At first I thought it was some kind of speed alert, until realizing that each and every time, it stopped beeping when a police vehicle of some description had passed.

On the bus trip between Dali and Lijiang, I was staring down at a ridiculously steep drop to one side of the road, when our bus driver decided to overtake another vehicle, on a sharp curve, in the outside lane. While thankfully nothing came from it, it scared the bejeezus out of us, and I could easily imagine plunging off that cliff to our deaths, just because of that one particular driver’s impatience.

While not every vehicle was poorly driven, it was always a minefield of quality. When in China, be prepared for sometimes harrowing road trips – though remember, without question of a doubt, the best way to travel is by train (or plane if you have heavier pockets).


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6 Responses to “Chinese roads; life on the edge.”

  1. Tom Says:

    haha! radar detectors! they’re very illegal back in AU 🙂

  2. Marcus Says:

    I’m willing to bet if you ask a Chinese policeman he’ll tell you it’s illegal there too 🙂

  3. baresytapas Says:

    I reached this blog by accident, but I found very interesting. A greeting.

  4. Marcus Says:

    Great 🙂

  5. Anna Says:

    Dude, we are surprised that we haven’t seen any major incidents in the cities! The roads frighten me here, so I cant imagine how you guys felt after you saw that, scary stuff. We did see one dude who had an ‘altercation’ of some sort, and was shouting and getting angry with the policeman. It made us laugh but at the same time, no idea what the ‘altercation’ actually was… 🙂 The policeman just shrugged it off, was kind of funny, not knowing what they were going on about.

  6. mohamad Says:

    i am iranian
    your web is well

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