The rules of the road

Foto © Sam Rentmeester

Foto © Sam Rentmeester

The Chinese drive through Changsha like the Dutch ride their bikes through Amsterdam – without any regard for traffic rules. And that is a recipe for congestion, says Dr Jie Li.

The Chinese traffic researcher Ji Lie recently gained her PhD under the supervision of Professor Henk van Zuylen (CiTG). He had noticed that the flow of traffic through an intersection with traffic lights in China was 20 to 30 per cent lower than the models projected that it should be, and he wondered  what was causing this.

After four year of research, during which Li conducted surveys of Dutch and Chinese drivers and collected and analysed GPS data from car journeys made by Chinese drivers, she concluded that poor driving leads to delays and accidents. She explored the difference in driving styles between the Netherlands and China and produced some striking figures.

The underlying problem, according to Li, is the poor knowledge of traffic rules in China. Candidates first learn the traffic rules from a book and only then do they get to practise behind the wheel, where the emphasis is mainly on technical skills. Only four of the 35 people in the focus group were correctly able to identify a right of way sign.

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