5 differences in driving a car in China and Finland

It’s now been over three months since I got my Chinese drivers license. Besides that small little accident back then, driving in Guangzhou has been much easier than I ever thought. Today I’m listing the top 5 differences in driving in China and Finland.

1 Giving way to pedestrians

In both Finland and China it’s a legal responsiblity of a driver to give way to pedestrians, but I rarely see it happen in Guangzhou. Why? One reason could be the huge population, meaning if you give way to one, you end up stuck in the crossroad for a long time before everyone has passed. Luckily most intersections in the city center has traffic lights to solve the problem. But as a pedestrian still be careful of those right turning cars even though you have a green light to cross the road!

2 Making U-turns

I rarely remember making a U-turn in Finland, but in a huge city like Guangzhou you can’t avoid them! Interesting detail is, that the U-turn lane can be anywhere: on the left, on the right, under the bridge or over the tunnel. So keep an eye on the road signs.

3 Changing lanes

One of the biggest challenges in driving here is the need to change lanes all the time, or even if you stick to your lane, others will be passing you all the time. In Finland you are supposed to drive on the right lane and only use the left lane to ovetake someone. In many cities, there are only one lane going in each direction. But Guangzhou is gigantic compared Helsinki and choosing the right lane in time is crucial. I’m often forced to go the wrong way just because I didn’t change to the correct lane in time. Baidu Map Navigator is my best friend here!

4 Being more aggressive

Because of the huge amount of cars on the road, there are more aggressive drivers as well who are unwilling to give way or don’t care about traffic violations. Everytime I drive here, I see cars changing lanes without signaling, excessive speeding, dangerous overtaking just to mention a few.

5 Lack of using seatbelts and child car seats

The awareness in road safety is increasing in China, but unfortunately it still has a lot to improve. My husband’s family and relatives have been surprised of our rule of not to drive even an inch if someone is without a seatbelt. Kids and babies are being hold in the backseat and sometimes their heads can be seen peeking out the windows. Guangzhou is already paying attention to educating the citizens by short movies in public transport, but I’m not sure how many are paying attention to them.

But even though driving in General is more dangerous in Guangzhou than in Finland, I rarely see any major accidents. Somehow the cars flow on the roads in a crazy manner, but mostly still out of collision distance.


What to do when you get into a traffic accident in China?

These quick stations are around the city as small crashes happen all the time

These quick stations are around the city as small crashes happen all the time

Getting into a traffic accident in China is a topic I wish I knew nothing about, but based on my quite resent experiences, I wrote a step by step guide for you. So here’s what to do if you are in a car crash in Guangzhou.

  1. Stop right there where the accident happened, don’t move your car or allow the other person to move theirs. Safely get out of your car and take photos of both of the cars and your surroundings. As changing lanes is when many accidents happen, take photos which show the location of both cars and the road markings. Is you car over a line or is theirs?
  2. If it was a major accident or there is any dispute between you two, don’t move the cards. Call a traffic police at 122 to come and settle it.
  3. If it was just a small crash and nothing too serious, head to the side of a road in a safe place to discuss it with the other person. Was it your fault? Then no need to call the police if you can settle the matter calmly. Was it their fault or not sure? Is the other person angry or trying to argue with you? Call the traffic police at 122 and let them decide whose fault it was. If you moved the cars, they will want to see the photos you took.
  4. Follow the traffic police’s instructions on how to continue. Call you insurance company and explain the situation to them. In small crashes or bumps where both cars can still continue driving, you can drive to a 快速理赔 (Quick claim settling station) to report the incident and get the correct documents for your insurance company.
  5. At the small station (just a hut usually) they will take photos of cars, you and your papers, then they will fill in report forms and give them to you for insurance purposes. You will also need those papers when you go and get your cars fixed.
  6. When both cars are fixed, all the documents has to be given to the one responsible so their insurance company can handle the paperwork. In my case the crash was my fault, so the other person sent their documents, I paid her and the insurance company will pay me back. Our car dealer shop, where we bought and fixed our car, will help us with all the paperwork.

Have you been in a traffic accident in China? Share your stories in the comments!