Recently, four Chinese tourists had a fatal car crash on their way to the Grand Canyon. Local police investigation concluded that the van that carried these tourists failed to yield at a stop sign, and was therefore struck by a bus. Shortly after, they were killed at the scene.
When tourists are not familiar with the driving culture in a foreign country, tragedies like these can happen. We have interviewed some of our agents who have driving experience in Taiwan, China, and America, and listed the differences between the Western and Eastern driving culture. If you just recently got your driver license, please read!
“STOP SIGN” – Must Stop!
In the U.S., stop signs are put in some junctions instead of traffic lights. When you see stop signs at a road junction, you must make a complete stop and wait until the road ahead is clear and then you can go.
Another situation is that in the U.S., when a school bus is flashing red lights and extending a stop sign, regardless of what side of the bus you are on, you must stop until the bus resumes motion or the sign and light is turned off. Don’t even think of passing the bus! If you do, you will face a fine of $680.
Make a Right Turn at a Red Light
Each state has its own traffic laws. Luckily, you are allowed to make a right turn at a red light in most areas in California. But you have to follow the same rule as you would for a stop sign. When you are in the right lane, stop completely and check that there are no other traffic or pedestrians. Do not turn if a “NO TURN ON RED” sign is posted.
Wear a Seatbelt No Matter Where You Sit
It is a law in the U.S. that the driver and front seat passenger are required to wear seatbelts when riding in an automobile. However, there are some states that require all passengers in an automobile to buckle up. In California, the driver is responsible for securing all passengers. The driver and passenger will be cited if they are caught not wearing seatbelts.
In Taiwan, you will see cars and scooters (Yes. There are many mopeds in Taiwan) blocking the traffic during rush hours, so there are always police officers standing on the road to direct traffic. But you will never see one in Los Angeles. Why? Because you will get stuck on the freeway first. LOL
Seriously though, the reason is that in the U.S., it’s always illegal to block an intersection. Even if the light is green, you should not enter an intersection if you will be blocking traffic. Remember! Or you will face a big fine!
Pedestrians Always Have Priority
When you go back to Taiwan and you feel scared crossing the street without traffic lights, you know you’ve been in the U.S. for too long. In the States, pedestrians always have the priority. When making a turn at the green light, you must slow down just in case a pedestrian appears out of nowhere. If someone is crossing the street, no matter how fast or slow they are, you must stop and wait for them to clear your way.
Even though pedestrians have priority, they can’t always do whatever they want. Obey the law and use the crosswalk! If you are a USC alumni, you have probably heard stories of your friends’ friend getting ticketed for jaywalking!
Yield to Emergency Vehicles
My foreign friends always admire how Americans yield to ambulances. It is actually by law that we have to yield the right-of-way. If you hear police or ambulance sirens approaching, no matter what direction you are at, you must pull over to the right. If you can’t move to the right, you should just stop and let the emergency vehicles pass.
Do Not Get Out of Your Car When You Get Pulled Over
If you see a police car following you and blaring sirens, congratulations, an advanced level conversation class begins!
A lot of immigrants like to negotiate with the police officer when they get pulled over in their home countries. However, it is a big NO in the U.S.! When you get pulled over, you should stay in your car or you will be suspected of initiating an attack. At this point, turn off the engine and place your hands on the steering wheel. Wait until the police officer asks for your valid license and insurance card.
BE RESPECTFUL! If the officer issues you a citation, sign it. Do not argue. It doesn’t mean that you admit to being guilty; it’s just recognition that you received the citation. If you believe that you don’t deserve the ticket, you always have the right to fight it.