Chinese Bad Driving: Is There A Cure?


“Asians can’t drive.” Chances are if you live in America or have ever heard the punchline to what seems like every ethnic driving joke, it has to do with an Asian at the wheel. So, rather than poke jest at the now standard judgment we learned in mass media culture, one doctor is actually trying to cure the Chinese of their bad driving. That’s right, the man is looking at their lack of maneuverability in the driver’s seat as a disease that simply needs a treatment.

But is something like the inability to navigate an automobile adequately really remediable? I never heard of someone getting a prescription because they couldn’t walk a tight rope. Seems analogous. Huffington Post reported that Beijing based doctor Jin Huiqing “has studied the records of thousands of Chinese bus, van and cab drivers, put dozens through neurological tests, examined hundreds of blood samples. Since last year, he’s even been trying to find gene markers for bad drivers.”

So in other words, there might be a chance we can simply lift the hood on these people, tighten up a couple of faulty spark plug genes, and throw them in to high gear confidentially? My question: Will they need tune ups every 5,000 miles?

Daily India commented that “Jin tries to target the root cause of accidents by identifying the physical or psychological traits of poor drivers, such as risk-taking or poor response time under stress, and keeping them off the streets or ensuring they get adequate training.”

Due to the nature of what Jin has suggested, his researched has indubitably been met with criticism. Guohua Li, a Columbia University epidemiologist specializing in injury prevention and familiar with Jin’s work, said “it would be unethical to shape policies on granting license or providing insurance based on a person’s genetic information.” I enormously disagree! In furthering our medial knowledge and learning more about the human body and mind, we should never allow research and development be stifled by political correctness. What are you going to tell the mother who lost her child in a car accident when it could have been prevented but we didn’t want to offend Mr. Ming before he got behind the wheel?

Riding the line ethically or not… the results speak for themselves. “Jin’s company, Anhui Sanlian Group, developed a three-pronged approach to road safety that involves a battery of tests to screen drivers, training with simulators and surveillance cameras to closely monitor roads for problems. [Since then,] the eastern city of Jinan adopted the system and police in the provincial capital say traffic deaths have fallen by a third in the past five years.” Boom. Done.

Let’s face it. As a comedian, I am the first to admit that stereotypes are not only funny but entirely true because they only exist due to constant reaffirming of the pattern. That stated, does the Asian driving gag hold water? Well, you tell me. According to the World Health Organization, traffic accidents are the leading cause of death of the Chinese people aged between 15 to 44 years. I’m not nearly as good at math as they are (see they have good ones too), but I think we cracked this fortune cookie wide open. Keep up the good work Jin!

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