As a long-time driver/scooter rider/cyclist in Taiwan, I have seen my fair share of bad driving. Taiwan has its own unique driving culture, which combined with a comparative lack of proper traffic law enforcement has created many bad habits among Taiwanese drivers. Below is a list of some of the quirky bad habits and customs you can see on the roads in Taiwan.
Please note that the following is satire and not to be taken seriously. These are just observations of bad driving from an American living in Taiwan. Please do not perform any of the following. Please follow all the traffic laws of the Republic of China. Please be safe while driving or riding a scooter in Taiwan. Multiple people are injured and killed in traffic accidents in Taiwan every day, partly because they follow these dangerous unwritten rules. Most of these are just bad habits shared by many Taiwanese drivers.
Unwritten road culture for driving on the National Highways in Taiwan
1. You are on Taiwan's version of the Autobahn. Speed limits don't apply between speed cameras.
2. If someone merges in front of you, flash your high beams and ride their bumper to show your dominance.
3. Every lane is a passing lane
4. If you are in a BMW, go twice the speed as everyone else
5. Never allow anyone to merge in front of you.
6. Forget about safe following distances
7. You are actually in a video game. There is no danger if you crash.
8. When passing the car in front, get as close to the back bumper as possible
9. Slow cars stay in any lane.
10. If it's raining so hard you can't see your own hood, do not adjust speed or following distance.
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Unwritten Rules for Scooters
11. When turning right, never look to the left toward oncoming traffic. Everyone will yield to you.
12. When turning right, if you are riding a scooter there is no need to look left toward oncoming traffic because you are small enough that other vehicles can easily avoid you.
13. When turning left, creep slowly into moving traffic until everyone stops for you.
14. Helmets are only required in Taipei City.
15. Wearing flip flops while riding a scooter is okay, because who knows when it will rain?
16. It's okay to strap a baby to your body using a baby carrier while riding a scooter. Helmets are not required for such babies because, let's be honest, they really do not sell helmets small enough for newborn infants in Taiwan. Trust me, I have tried to look for them.
17. Before you leave, make sure you fit as many people and/or animals on the scooter as possible. For instance, two parents strapped to two toddlers, an older kid in the middle, another toddler standing in front, and a dog sitting on the floor.
18. Using a wooden stool on the scooter is an acceptable seat for children.
19. Holding an infant on your lap in a car is okay because the infant does not like his/her car seat.
20. If your scooter fails the emissions test, just keep riding it. The cops will never pull you over. Until they do.
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More General Unwritten Rules
21. If you live on an outer island like Lanyu, license plates and car insurance are optional.
22. Always smoke a cigarette, chew binlang, and hold a beer bottle while riding a scooter or driving a car.
23. Blinkers are optional.
24. Don't ever use your rear-view mirrors. Everyone riding/driving behind you needs to respect you at all times.
25. When stopped at a stop light on a sunny day, always stop under the shade.
26. It's okay to cut people off if you are in a hurry.
27. The Beiyi Highway (北宜公路) is your personal motorcycle racetrack.
28. If riding a scooter, sidewalks are fair game.
29. If you are stopped at a red light waiting for pedestrians, it's okay to walk your scooter across the street to the lane you want.
30. It's okay to go the wrong way down the street against traffic if it's only for one block.
31. Yield for ambulances and police cars only if it is convenient.
32. If you are driving a bus, you own the road. Yield to no one, especially not cyclists or pedestrians.
33. Red lights mean nothing unless there are cars in the intersection that physically stop you from passing through.
34. Cyclists are like ants. They move slowly and you should run over them.
35. If someone cuts you off, you need to honk your horn as long as possible.
Looking for bicycle rentals in Taiwan? You can search on KKday here and search for tours on Klook here.
You can also check out our Taiwan cycling guide here.
36. If someone honks at you after you cut them off, get out of your car and have an oral argument with them.
37. If someone gets out of their car to get into an oral argument with you after honking your horn at them, get out your baseball bat and threaten to hit their car.
38. If someone pulls a baseball bat on you, it's time to run.
39. If you get in a minor accident, just let it go unless the driver looks like they have money.
40. Try to solve all car accidents first with cash.
41. If the lane is closing, merge at the last possible moment or just keep driving on the shoulder.
42. Seat belts are optional unless you are driving on the freeway.
43. If you drive a Tesla, there is no need to pay attention during autopilot mode.
44. If you drive a Ferrari, Lamborghini, Lotus, or even a Mercedes, BMW, etc. you have permission to drive fast and terribly at all times.
45. If you drive a car more than 10 years old, you deserve to get passed on the highway by everyone with a newer car.
46. Parking on the red line is fine as long as it is not downtown Taipei during the day. It's a lot cheaper than parking in those pesky white parking spaces (see above).
47. Parking on red lines is fine if it's not more than 15 minutes. Just put on your hazards.
48. Parking in the middle of the road/intersection is fine as long as you put on your hazard lights. Come on, everyone knows there are no parking spots in Taiwan.
49. Park anywhere you want unless there is a cop nearby.
50. Drive as fast and as terribly as you want unless there is a cop/speed camera in sight.
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Thanks for reading, and please do not do any of the above, except maybe stop in the shade. Be sure to follow us for more Taiwan-related posts to come.
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We are US Expats that have extensive experience living, working, and travelling in Taiwan. In our day, we had to learn many things about Taiwan the hard way. But we have come to learn that Taiwan is one of the best places in the world for Foreigners to live. Our blog does not represent the opinions of every foreigner in Taiwan. We are just trying to help others learn more about this beautiful country.