China Traffic Deaths

[Marginal Revolution] Every day, 300 people die in traffic accidents in China. While this is the highest rate of traffic deaths in the world, it is remarkably low when all things are considered. Admittedly, the traffic in China is horrendous, and nobody pays attention to traffic signals; but that is not really the issue. You see, in China it is quite common for pedestrians to be on the freeways. I have seen literally hundreds of instances of old ladies standing in the midst if traffic with their bicycles, having conversations. Nobody wears reflective clothing, bicycles do not have lights or reflectors. And old ladies holding conference in the middle of the road are the least of the road hazards you have to worry about. These are things that westerners are not expecting to find in the road. Mark my words: if westerners are permitted to rent cars during the 2008 Olympics, the carnage will be terrible. I’m dead serious; there is no way that westerners will be able to avoid running over people accidentally. My mother-in-law, who is from Beijing, is a perfect example of why this is the case. She wanted to take a stroll on the freeway here, and we had to explain that she would get run over. She was very indignant. ?Why are Americans so mean? Doesn’t the freeway belong to everyone?? We had to explain that the drivers who would run her over would probably be very nice people; they simply would not be expecting to find an old Chinese woman standing in the middle of the road. With our fast food and cellphones, we are less adept at swerving around the pedestrians.

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