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Indicating for life

posted by Martin Rubli at 13:38

The Taipei government spends quite some effort on traffic education. (Interestingly enough these traffic education ads can often be found in bus or subway stations but that's not today's topic. :-)

To the average European reading these advertisements is akin to reading about the sky being blue or fire being hot. However, as you will find out quickly if you visit Taiwan, traffic ticks a little differently here and what is common sense to me may appear curious to the average road user.

Here's one such example:

Traffic education advertisement seen in Taipei.

There are at least two important words here that many Taiwanese seem to have trouble with:

方向燈 ("indicator"). Based on my day-to-day experience there's a fair share of motorcyclists and car drivers who don't have a clue what that little lever with the two arrows on it is for. And, even among those who know that pulling it does more than trigger a funny clicking noise, beliefs like "people can see I'm turning anyway" or excuses such as "nobody's around to see it" are widespread.

前 ("before"). Of the few people left who regularly use the indicator many of them have a lot of work to do in the timing department. There are people who blink two intersections too early because they intend to turn somewhere within the next 150 meters. Those are bad for traffic flow but at least rarely dangerous. But then there are the ones who blink at the same time they start turning, fully convinced that everybody is now aware of their intention and it is safe to turn without as much as a glance in the mirror.

The two single most effective accident avoiding patterns are looking ahead and communicating your intentions. Indicating properly is an important link between these two. It's common courtesy at worst and life-saving at best. Quite potent for a flick of a finger, isn't it?