Traffic Accident

By Bryan • china • 21 Dec 2004

Yesterday I bore witness to another traffic accident in Nanjing. This incident occurred literally right in front of me and was about 10 times worse than what I saw a few weeks ago.

A Pajero (Chinese Jeep) was making a left into a nearby parking lot and creamed a moped which was crossing the entrance. The Pajero hit this girl really hard. The moped shot across the entrance and she rolled about twice before she came to a rest about one meter in front of me.

I immediately ran over to help. I could tell that she probably had a broken leg from where the Pajero had hit, or at least a dislocated knee. She didn’t move right away, so I immediately thought neck and back injury. By this point a sizable crowd had coverged, yet I don’t believe anyone had the slightest idea of what to do. I’ve taken a considerable amount of first aid over the years and I knew exactly what to do (ie. stabilize the victim given a probable neck/back injury).

She began to sit up on her own, but I wanted to say “No, don’t move, don’t move, lie still”. One can have a spinal injury without even knowing it, and movement may not indicate an undamaged neck and back. I managed to say “No, No”, but I couldn’t really say anything more, let alone explain to anyone what I wanted to do. The driver was now on scene, and a few other bystanders had moved in to offer assistance. They picked her up and brought the woman over the curb. This woman was hit really hard by the jeep and moving her was probably the worst thing they could have done, yet I had no way of telling them that without creating a potentially hostile situation. I just backed away and left. There really wasn’t anything I could do. I feel horrible about it, and I hope the young woman is alright.

Next time I see something like this happen (and there probably will be a next time) I’m just going to jump in there. Fuck the language barrier.

I saw the entire accident, and it provided the best little anecdote of driving and traffic patterns and situations in China. There were no other vehicles around when this happened. Both Pajero and moped had adequate time to see one another and compensate. Yet neither altered their path. I’ve noticed the existence of this “If I can see you, then you must be able to see me, therefore you are responsible for moving” mentality on the streets in China. Both drivers appeared to follow this phenomenon to the letter. 24/7 game of chicken.

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3 Responses

  1. cjs

    man. i hear ya.

    most of i try not to think of this aspect of nanjing, and i like to think that there’s a method to the madness, but i guess there’s no denying how hazardous the roads really are.

  2. Bryan

    I also can’t seem to wrap my head around the apparent absence of road rage here. Everyone appears so chill when a vehicle crosses into their lane, not to pass one vehicle, but several dozen.

  3. Sue

    ………and I thought dodging moose on an icy snowy highway was stressful!

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