Seatbelts in Taipei Taxis – It’s About Time!

My #1 issue with Taipei – and the #1 thing that would keep me from returning – is road safety. The streets of Taipei are crazy. Yes, they’re a lot less crazy than they used to be, but there are still a lot of nutjobs. And it’s not just for drivers and passengers, but pedestrians too. Sylvia has been almost run down by drivers going the wrong way down one-way streets, driving down crosswalks (not through – down the crosswalk in the direction that pedestrians walk), and driving on sidewalks. And don’t even get me started on the scooters!

The Government of Canada’s Travel Advisory page for Taiwan puts it well:

Driving habits in Taiwan are often more erratic and reckless than in Canada. Driving or riding motorcycles is dangerous and should be avoided, even by experienced motorcyclists. Substandard road conditions and local disregard for traffic laws result in frequent accidents that cause serious and even fatal injuries to foreigners. Motorcycles and scooters weave in and out of traffic.

Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be an end in site to the insanity on the roads, but as a regular taxi passenger it’s good to see that at least we’re going to get seatbelts in the back of taxi cabs, after Nora Sun (孫穗芬), a granddaughter of Republic of China (ROC) founding father Sun Yat-sen (孫逸仙), was severely injured in a car accident on New Year’s Day.

This has been a major annoyance for me for years: taxi drivers in Taipei routinely remove, hide, or otherwise cripple the seatbelts in the back of their taxis. And if you do manage to find or repair the seatbelt and use it, the driver usually takes offence; I’ve heard it’s because you’re insinuating that he isn’t a good driver – and he probably isn’t – but it’s the other nutjobs on the road I’m more worried about.

Score one for road safety! Now, if only they could go about enforcing the other road safety laws they already have … and will Taipei County (sorry, “New Taipei City” now), where I work, follow suit?

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