There’s something about driving in Taiwan that is both comforting and exhilarating. You never know what’s going to happen, you have to be alert at all times. There are more slow drivers than there are fast, and people can’t park to save their lives. And don’t get me started on busy streets in city centres. Cars parked illegally, sometimes even three cars deep, right out onto the middle of the road. Rude. But you know, it keeps me on my toes.
Admittedly, there are (a lot of) times when you really want to tear your hair out. Oftentimes, the reason people park like absolute a**holes is for the sake of convenience. If I had to document every parking violation I saw, I would basically have a full-time job.
And then there are the scooters. In general, I believe that scooter drivers are actually better than people who drive cars. Having ridden a scooter on occasion, I also better understand how traffic works from their perspective. With that in mind, driving with loads of scooters becomes a lot less scary. But, as with every single type of group of people on this planet, there are the dickheads of the group. The ones that tear down roads without much regard for others, the ones that go through reds, the ones that go through red because they’re ‘only turning right’ without actually looking for oncoming traffic, or the ones that purposefully drive on the WRONG SIDE OF THE BUSY ASS ROAD disrupting everyone in their path.
I feel that this horrid behaviour in driving both cars and scooters has something to do with behavioural culture. Taiwanese people, as kind as as giving as they are, can also have a darker side (generally speaking, of course). People can be ultimately rather selfish. Cutting in line, the way they treat people in the hospitality industry, and the importance of status and face are all examples of feeling as if they are god, and they should be treated as such. It really irks me when people come across all holier than thou. I guess I see it more because I technically also work in the service industry here. People think you need to carry them on your hands because you’re offering them a service, and common courtesy goes out the window. Everything for them has to be 100% the best or else they walk. Everything has to be better than what the other person is getting. Equality isn’t a given… someone is always better than someone else.
In my opinion, as soon as people let go of this ‘me me me’ attitude, then even driving will become a more pleasant experience in Taiwan. People that actually wait as you cross the zebra path rather than trying to cut you off, speeding while doing so. Cars that don’t park in the middle of the tiny road, blocking off traffic for the whole street on Old Street in any given town. Until we address inequality, though, we won’t really get there. One can dream, though… one can dream.