Sunday, May 22, 2011

Why Asians are Bad Drivers

Leave your pride and your political correctness at home, and you have to admit, many Asians are bad drivers in the US. And when I say "Asians", I mean "people of yellow and brown color", even though it is not Asian-Americans (for the most part) who are at fault for being wild on the road….just their parents. [Sure, there are probably as many bad drivers of other races, but there's no denying we have our share of crappy drivers]

Here's my theory why:

Asians are accustomed to both reckless driving and extreme defensive driving, driving styles that are common in Asia but are considered "bad driving" in the US.

Asians Driving in Taiwan

Drivers in Taiwan don't care much for driving laws and have care even less for right-of-way rules and other unspoken/sometimes-spoken rules we have in the US. This disregard for rules and the general well-being of others on the road is embodied in my grandmother (my mom's mom).

My grandmother is a terrible driver (and a terrible person, but that's another story for another day). She stomps the brake when the car ahead of us brakes because she doesn't leave enough room between the two. She makes such slow and crazy left turns on big roads that oncoming traffic needs to come to a near halt to not run into her. She used to be worse. She used to go the other way on one-way streets and always go on red lights. Thank God she doesn't anymore.

I can't really speak for the rest of Asia, but I know that Taiwan is filled with these sort of drivers. Some of my relatives say that people don't stop for red lights but slow down for green lights, because when they are crossing a green light, they are afraid of other people running red lights. But when they are running a red light, they know that other people are also scared of people running red lights and that the other drivers slow down on greens, allowing them to drive full speed through a red. Road rage is pretty common and crazy in Taiwan, and people yell and scream at you if you make a mistake or don't get out of the way in time.

There is an expectation in Taiwan that you are prepared for reckless drivers, driving to accommodate their crazy driving (if you aren't one of the reckless drivers, that is). There's no use in pouting and being righteous about right of way or traffic laws. You just need to slow down when other a car decides to cut in front of you, look both ways when crossing a green light, and be extremely careful when making turns. Even when it's your right of way, it's almost always safer to just assume that the other driver is crazy and selfish and will go anyways (like my grandmother). This results in an extreme sort of defensive driving.

Asians Driving in the US

Both reckless driving and extreme defensive driving make a lot of sense (kind of) in Taiwan, but it would be madness in the US. We see less of the Asian reckless drivers in the US (most of them don't make it over here...), but we see a lot of extremely slow, overly cautious Asian drivers. Sure, it might be because the poor Asian lady is too short to see over the wheel, but it could also be that she's accustomed to motorcycles jumping out of nowhere and cars seemingly intent on crashing into her. Our Asian parents seem to also hold this view of the dangerous, car-eat-car roads and highways. Anyone have your Asian mom scream at you to look left a million times before making a right turn? Yeah, me too. (Maybe white moms do it too, but I wouldn't know. I don't have a white mom.) They still imagine cars stopping randomly and motorcycles cutting you off, and they aren't yet used to the relative calm and safety of the American road.

So there it is, my theory of why Asians are bad drivers. This could, of course, all be completely wrong and the reason we are bad drivers is just that God made us that way.

Say what you want, but I love Carlos Mencia. Moment at 1:40, priceless.


  1. Hahaha this is great. Such good analysis. Asians make em, but can't drive em..

  2. I don't think it has to do with just being used to reckless driving. South Asians also come from countries where no 1 follows traffic rules and the driving is crazy but they don't have a bad rep when it comes to driving in North America.

  3. I think it might not be an "Asian thing" but actually a "Chinese thing". I've read a lot about Chinese crowd culture in regards to not being able to line up for things, not holding doors for eachother, etc and I think some of it is applicable to driving habits as well.

    It seems China is a country where strangers are ignored vigorously. In the West we also ignore strangers to a degree but it's not socially acceptable to do it to the point of rudeness the way it is in China. I think this is what enables the extreme defensive driving habits you describe.

    At the root of it what they are doing is putting blinders on to everything that's not right in front of them and saying, "I'll pay attention to what's in front of me and the rest is someone else's problem." Unfortunately that's not how American road culture works.