Thursday, March 28, 2013

Green, is the New Yellow!

In January, China came down with some sweeping reforms of traffic rules to try to create more order.  Driving here is a bit crazy to put it lightly.  One of the most interesting changes, is that if you run a yellow light, you get the same penalty as if you ran a red light.  So, yellow light = red light.

I read an article on China Daily, Seeing Red Over Yellow Light Rule, which was the first I'd heard of the change. So as the rule stands, if you are past the stop mark when a light turns yellow you may go through, but if you are right behind the stop mark, you must stop, otherwise you lose 6 points (allowed 12 points in 12 months) and get a ticket.  In Beijing, there are cameras EVERYWHERE, so it isn't like, "oh well if there is a cop there I'll get in trouble," it is pretty much guaranteed.

Well organized traffic jam in Beijing, photo by -AX- via Flickr

As you can imagine this has a lot of people upset, it is nearly impossible to stop at a yellow light immediately when you see it. The whole point is that you can't stop safely.  Lots of people are trying to stop and getting rear ended because the norm here would be 5 people behind you would try to run the yellow/red lights.

So, what I've noticed in the past few days is that they are making the green light start to flash right before it is about to turn yellow, giving people notice.  Doesn't this seem to defeat the purpose?

Ironically, the Chinese all seem to know where the cameras are located so they still run the lights that don't have cameras, speed on the streets, or areas that don't have cameras, and then follow the rules when they get to a camera.

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