Traffic top killer of tourists

Car accidents will soon surpass HIV/AIDS or tuberculosis as a cause of death.

Crashes are the leading cause of accidental death for American and British nationals travelling or resident abroad. [story]

“Globally, millions of people are coping with the death or disability of family members from road traffic injury,” says the WHO report. Traffic injuries are the leading cause of death in people aged 10 to 24 worldwide.

Traffic collisions cost an estimated $518 billion per year.

China and India account for close to half of the world’s deadly traffic accidents, despite having just a fraction of the private cars and other vehicles. Nearly 600 people are killed on the highways and back lanes of China every day.

China traffic jamIt was a classic China traffic jam.

Trucks, taxi, a gaggle of bicycles, mopeds parked perpendicular, all on a narrow street…

For one still moment, everything stopped…

Nobody, but nobody, moved.

Nobody made eye contact.

I’ve never seen anyone in China back out of a congested situation. And they didn’t: this culture doesn’t back down. And then the van, going in the other direction from the garbage truck, simply inched forward. Space compressed; it always does here.

The drivers could’ve met pimple to pimple; instead they gave no sign that the other existed and went forward. I did what everyone else did. I found a toe hole between a mop and a saucepan, wove between five people and moved forward, none of whom budged; perhaps I’ve lived here too long. I didn’t even say excuse me.

Perhaps it was my imagination that things came to a standstill, because the culture, the directive here is to move forward: “Don’t look at anybody, don’t recognize anything, but shimmy your way around, on, over and through.”