Road Safety in China

Road_SafetyWhen accidents occur between pedestrians or non-motorized vehicles and motor vehicles, except for the case where the pedestrian or the non-motorized vehicle deliberately causes the incident, the motorist must always bear responsibility.  Responsibility for the motorist is reduced if the pedestrian or non-motorized side violated traffic laws. Insurance on motor vehicles is now compulsory instead of voluntary. Expressway speed limits have increased from 110 km/h to 120 km/h.

The above are spinets from the China Traffic Laws which were enacted in 2004 to reduce the fatalities. The Road Traffic Safety Law of the People’s Republic of China took effect across mainland China excluding the special administrative municipalities.

Personal safety is a huge responsibility that foreign students must be aware of. Despite most roads having advanced street cameras, this should not be a reason to cross the road carelessly. Many Chinese are aware of this and regardless of whether one is a foreigner or not, you could find yourself in trouble is you disobey the traffic code. Chinese dive on the right of the road (Keep Right)Unless you own an e-bike, bicycle or even a car, when walking along the road, keep to the left of the road, where you can see oncoming traffic.

Traffic lights are functional in most developed cities, and should there be none, use the Look Left… rule. Keep within the limits of the Zebra crossing at all times. Unless one is alone, wait for others to start crossing then follow, just to be sure that its the right moment. If the green light is blinking, know that it is about to turn red, so its probably better to wait, don’t attempt to cross. If in doubt, ask.


Recently, most students have taken up the habit of crossing the road at dangerous points, taking full advantage of a lag in the traffic lights between two points. While Chinese also do this, I would highly disapprove this. The risk is too large and also the fines. Its better to go down the metro/subway and use an alternate exit across the road. This is by far the safest means.

If your car, bicycle breaks down on the highway, exit and call for assistance. On most highways, it is illegal to walk along it for safety reasons. Disembark your failed means of transport, step away from the highway and make the call. You will be surprised, some highways have an emergency telephone. Make the call on a safe spot where you can see oncoming traffic. Don’t attempt to cross the highway.

In Case of An Accident.

For foreign students who are pretty new in China, It is important that you move around in pairs or more. Never be alone since it will be hard to communicate in case of a problem. However the police are always at your beck and call. Dial 119 when your friend is in an emergency situation like an accident, lost or feeling uneasy. The following numbers will come in handy across the mainland China.

  • Police: 110
  • Ambulance:119
  • Fire Service:120

One Comment Add yours

  1. Manish says:

    Insightful article there.What is the procedure for a foreigner obtaining a driving license for example when you need to hire a car for moving around the different Chinese cities and towns when on tour.Thanks in advance

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