Saturday, May 24, 2008

Traffic Signals are for Foreigners

Disclaimer: In no way do I think that even a small percentage of Koreans share the view of the Korean that is discussed below.

ROK Drop reported that the Korean government was planning on implementing more traffic enforcement and safety policies in the face of an embarrassingly high number of traffic related fatalities. I was not going to post on this subject because I did not think that increased enforcement of traffic safety would cause a stir. I should have realized that some Koreans do not deal with criticism very well and they tend to wave their flag in defense.

Nothing in the post was offensive, but one commenter (who I hope comes by and visits) decided that they should make this an issue.

To give you the whole picture, here is the commentary from ROK Drop.

"For those that don’t know, Korea by far leads the OECD in pedestrian fatalities caused by traffic accidents and is second in vehicle fatalities caused by traffic accidents. It is good to see the Korean government highlighting the traffic accident problem, but I suspect little will be done judging by the past track record.

You would think after 2002 traffic safety would be taken seriously in Korea and it wasn’t. In 2006 the Korean government vowed to crackdown on traffic accident and did nothing. Now in 2008 they once again are vowing to do something.

If the government wants to do something having policemen waving flags at intersections will have no effect because cars just run the red lights anyway. If the police want to improve safety start writing tickets, especially for people parking illegally causing additional congestion in the already crowded streets. Than expand from there and write tickets for the mopeds driving on the sidewalks. I could go on and on with suggestions but waving flags will change nothing."

And here is the first rant from this highly intelligent commenter.

"hey Its the Korean System. Just because its not like the Americans does not make it wrong. You must learn to convert to the way of your host nation and realize everything American is not the best way."

The Korean system? If the "Korean System" means ignoring traffic laws and causing avoidable deaths and injury, then yes, it is wrong. They continued...

Your American elitism is coming to light. Certainly from the outside onlookers the Korean lead the world in deaths and such but you know Korean Drivers are faced everyday with special situations that foreigners cannot understand. Many of those deaths recorded each year are infact foreigners not knowing the roads. Koreans make a small amount of those yearly deaths.

Look at the way Koreans drive in the US…hailed by US drivers as the most careful and professional around.

What are those "special situations" that I can't understand? And I'm not sure about the reputation Korean drivers have in the US, but I know it is not "hailed". No one "hails" an entire race of people based on there driving skills. Here is their response to my comment "Korean drivers have no patience and that leads to accidents. Do not blame anybody but the bad KOREAN drivers!".

"Your views are obviously strewed by your hatred of the Korean peoples. I think you should clear your mind first before we can have a productive dialog.The fact Koreans run lights or park a way which is not acceptable to those on this site is not relevant. Korean people are clearly in the know of when and when not to obey traffic signals. Traffic signals are for foreigners who are very dangerous drivers. We all seen example of foreigners blowing horns or running over people in Korea. I think all foreigner’s should be banned from driving in Korea. All military car need to be driven by Korean driver and not careless foreigner."

And therein lies the problem. Because someone was critical about something Korean, this man equates that to hatred.

What I learned from this man:

1) Koreans are the best drivers in the America.

2) Foreigners cause more traffic deaths in Korea than in their home nation.

3) "Special situations" are more important than safety.

4) All Koreans know when it is appropriate to ignore traffic laws.

5) Traffic signals are for foreigners

I feel so much smarter.

***Update: After I asked the guy to provide some stats, he admitted his exaggeration and exited the deabte.


oncle jean said...

I "learned" a few things myself!

Harriet said...

What in the world?

David and I know first hand...there are really limited traffic rules over there in Korea. Glad we were not driving! "Foreigners", you know!