Sunday, August 8, 2010

Are We Safer With More Rules?

One man's chaos is simply another man's grace. The rules of the road were written to ensure that we can travel along the highways in an orderly fashion.

Some of these rules we just take for granted. I mean, whoever actually thinks about driving along the right hand side of the road (or left hand if you're in Britain)? It's just something that you do without thinking.

If a pedestrian is walking across the street, do you actually take the time to think if you or he has the right of way? At least in the USA, you always give the pedestrian plenty of space and just stop until he's passed by. You don't really think about it.

So, watch this video of traffic in Vietnam...



Vietnam is obviously a different society, one that seems to have fewer rules along the roadways, despite what we see as a hardline totalitarian regime. What appears to be a very chaotic intersection is probably something graceful to them.

Vietnamese riders obviously have to have a wide field of vision, and a deep field of vision as well, in order to navigate through that. It shows that when humans are faced with chaos, they learn to become more vigilant, and diligent.

In the United States, we expect drivers to stay on their side of the road. We expect drivers to stop at a stop light. We expect drivers to yield to pedestrians. Our system demands that we place a lot of trust in each other, in order for things to work smoothly.

I'm sure traffic accidents still happen in Vietnam, just as they still happen here in the USA. But considering Vietnam has so many more motorcyclists, I'm betting the number of accidents per miles traveled is far fewer than in the USA.

4 comments:

  1. Coming from Britain and riding in the US, I think about what side of the road to ride on every day!

    With such a strict set of road rules that there are in the US (and the Britain) it is easy to become frustrated when somebody breaks the rules. Like somebody on a main road stopping to let someone out from a side street. It causes all sorts of confusion when you have rules that people don't stick to.

    The rule breaking that I think is very odd is what pedestrians do in big cities here in the US. I really noticed it in Chicago where even if they walk over a crossing that is showing a "Don't Walk" signal to them, a pedestrian has right of way. Everybody there seems to accept this is the case, but as a foreigner who expects that I have right of way if I travel through a green traffic signal (as is the case in my country and as far as I know, the rest of the world), it is very confusing and dangerous even to have to stop for pedestrians when they are breaking the rules by walking against a red light. How did this rule change happen and who introduced it?

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  2. Well, at least in the USA the pedestrian has the right of way even if he's walking against a red light. He can still be cited for doing so, but it doesn't give you the green light for putting him in danger.

    But this only illustrates the fact that when you have rules, you tend to point to the rules to justify your actions. But when you don't have rules, you only have your skills to rely on. And maybe what the world needs are fewer rules.

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  3. I acn't remember what country it was in the EU, but they had commenced a trial of removing road signs and traffic lights. Surprisngly, traffic accidents reduced and drivers became kinder and gentle. I wish I could site the source...
    BTW, I really enjoy your blog. A well thought out and honest site. Cheers to you!
    Peace
    Jay

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  4. just moved in the US, owning only a motorcycle. so if a pedestrian feels suicidal and throws himself in front of me, not only will I go to jail but I'll also get sued by his family. in this case I hope I die in that accident as well - or wait, can they sue my next-of-kin??

    I've moved out of my country partly because motorcyclists are living targets and nobody goes to jail for running them over (suspended sentences y'all). BUT, if I hit a pedestrian who was crossing on RED, or where there was no zebra, I would NOT be even prosecuted. I had the right of way, period.

    so... this is just blows my mind.

    nice blog, will continue to read, but - but - :(

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About Steve

San Diego, CA-based motorcycle rider who likes long road trips, old rustic bars, craft beer, and tough women. Can often be found where there's free Wi-Fi, writing about the mysteries of life. (Read more...)