The World’s Most Bizarre Traffic Safety Idea

China Daily reports on how primary school students in the county of Guizhou are required to “salute” the drivers of passing cars (I don’t think they’re talking about the one-fingered variety).

Story here or after the jump…

Unnecessary salutation
(China Daily)
Updated: 2008-10-18 08:34

Authorities are using an outdated feudal idea to educate students about how to safely walk on the road, says an article on the website of People’s Daily. The following is an excerpt:

It was reported that Huangping county of Guizhou province has asked primary and secondary school students to salute whenever they see a passing car. In fact, the local government has forced the students to do so since 2004. Now students are well in the habit of saluting passing cars.

If not for the media report, we may not have found out about Huangping county’s ridiculous demand. Actually, the county is not alone. Several similar codes have been imposed by local governments across China in the past years, all requiring students to salute passing cars.

Two reasons lie behind this peculiar etiquette. One is to teach students to be civilized and courteous because saluting cars is deemed respectful to drivers and their passengers. The other is to prevent accidents.

Authorities only have the good intention of educating and protecting their students, but can they really achieve what they intend?

Huangping county’s Education Department head explained: “The promotion of salutation has greatly reduced the number of students playing around on the road; parents and teachers now feel more relaxed as the hidden safety problems have been kept under control”.

It seems that the ruling has helped reduce accidents, but it hasn’t made students more polite.

In the old days, ordinary people had to give way to officials being carried in sedans, as we still see on TV dramas featuring old dynasties. In this context, I feel the ruling of Huangping County is just like old wine in a new bottle – the outmoded idea is still easily identifiable despite its repackaging.

Pedestrians and car drivers are all equal in status and all have the right to use the road. Salutation means obedience instead of equality. Compared with vehicles, pedestrians are in a weaker position. So modern traffic rules usually stipulate that vehicles should give way to pedestrians, not vice versa. The ruling of salutation obviously strengthens the sense of inequality rather than rectifying inequality.

It does make students more obedient. But in those economically backward areas, owning a car is usually a sign of wealth or power. Students may think that they should salute wealthy or powerful people, thus enhancing their sense of humbleness.

In fact, to protect the safety of students, authorities can simply remind them not to play on the road and instead tell them to make gestures to car drivers to try and slow them down. Salutation is unnecessary.

(China Daily 10/18/2008 page4)

This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008 at 3:48 pm and is filed under Cars, Drivers, Pedestrians, Traffic Culture, Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Comments are closed.

Traffic Tom Vanderbilt

How We Drive is the companion blog to Tom Vanderbilt’s New York Times bestselling book, Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us), published by Alfred A. Knopf in the U.S. and Canada, Penguin in the U.K, and in languages other than English by a number of other fine publishers worldwide.

Please send tips, news, research papers, links, photos (bad road signs, outrageous bumper stickers, spectacularly awful acts of driving or parking or anything traffic-related), or ideas for my Transport column to me at:

For publicity inquiries, please contact Kate Runde at Vintage:

For editorial inquiries, please contact Zoe Pagnamenta at The Zoe Pagnamenta Agency:

For speaking engagement inquiries, please contact
Kim Thornton at the Random House Speakers Bureau:

Order Traffic from:

Amazon | B&N | Borders
Random House | Powell’s

U.S. Paperback UK Paperback
Traffic UK
Drive-on-the-left types can order the book from

For UK publicity enquiries please contact Rosie Glaisher at Penguin.

Upcoming Talks

April 9, 2008.
California Office of Traffic Safety Summit
San Francisco, CA.

May 19, 2009
University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies
Bloomington, MN

June 23, 2009
Driving Assessment 2009
Big Sky, Montana

June 26, 2009
PRI World Congress
Rotterdam, The Netherlands

June 27, 2009
Day of Architecture
Utrecht, The Netherlands

July 13, 2009
Association of Transportation Safety Information Professionals (ATSIP)
Phoenix, AZ.

August 12-14
Texas Department of Transportation “Save a Life Summit”
San Antonio, Texas

September 2, 2009
Governors Highway Safety Association Annual Meeting
Savannah, Georgia

September 11, 2009
Oregon Transportation Summit
Portland, Oregon

October 8
Honda R&D Americas
Raymond, Ohio

October 10-11
INFORMS Roundtable
San Diego, CA

October 21, 2009
California State University-San Bernardino, Leonard Transportation Center
San Bernardino, CA

November 5
Southern New England Planning Association Planning Conference
Uncasville, Connecticut

January 6
Texas Transportation Forum
Austin, TX

January 19
Yale University
(with Donald Shoup; details to come)

Monday, February 22
Yale University School of Architecture
Eero Saarinen Lecture

Friday, March 19
University of Delaware
Delaware Center for Transportation

April 5-7
University of Utah
Salt Lake City
McMurrin Lectureship

April 19
International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association (Organization Management Workshop)
Austin, Texas

Monday, April 26
Edmonton Traffic Safety Conference
Edmonton, Canada

Monday, June 7
Canadian Association of Road Safety Professionals
Niagara Falls, Ontario

Wednesday, July 6
Fondo de Prevención Vial
Bogotá, Colombia

Tuesday, August 31
Royal Automobile Club
Perth, Australia

Wednesday, September 1
Australasian Road Safety Conference
Canberra, Australia

Wednesday, September 22

Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s
Traffic Incident Management Enhancement Program
Statewide Conference
Wisconsin Dells, WI

Wednesday, October 20
Rutgers University
Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation
Piscataway, NJ

Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Ontario Injury Prevention Resource Centre
Injury Prevention Forum

Monday, May 2
Idaho Public Driver Education Conference
Boise, Idaho

Tuesday, June 2, 2011
California Association of Cities
Costa Mesa, California

Sunday, August 21, 2011
American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Attitudes: Iniciativa Social de Audi
Madrid, Spain

April 16, 2012
Institute for Sensible Transport Seminar
Gardens Theatre, QUT
Brisbane, Australia

April 17, 2012
Institute for Sensible Transport Seminar
Centennial Plaza, Sydney
Sydney, Australia

April 19, 2012
Institute for Sensible Transport Seminar
Melbourne Town Hall
Melbourne, Australia

January 30, 2013
University of Minnesota City Engineers Association Meeting
Minneapolis, MN

January 31, 2013
Metropolis and Mobile Life
School of Architecture, University of Toronto

February 22, 2013
ISL Engineering
Edmonton, Canada

March 1, 2013
Australian Road Summit
Melbourne, Australia

May 8, 2013
New York State Association of
Transportation Engineers
Rochester, NY

August 18, 2013 “Ingenuity” Conference
San Francisco, CA

September 26, 2013
TransComm 2013
(Meeting of American Association
of State Highway and Transportation
Officials’ Subcommittee on Transportation
Grand Rapids MI



October 2008

No, you probably won be compensated one million dollars; however, with the right blend of negotiating skills and patience, your efforts will be substantially rewarded!I have seen up to forty thousand dollars added to starting compensation through diligent negotiations. It is a way to significantly raise your standard of living and sense of self, simply by