Traffic Rules re: Emergency Vehicles in Hong Kong/Taiwan/China

The thread about pulling over for funeral processions reminded me of this…

So, I live in a part of Los Angeles (South San Gabriel Valley) that is overwhelmingly ethnically Chinese, with an additional heaping spoonful of Vietnamese and sprinklings of Korean, Latino, and white. But mostly Chinese, and mostly immigrants or the children of immigrants.

The traffic around here is…interesting, which I attribute not to the “Chinese are bad drivers” stereotype, but to the fact that driving laws and customs are radically different over there, and many of the folks who are new to the U.S. haven’t adjusted yet.

One of the things we’ve noticed is that often, when an emergency vehicle goes by with sirens on, some drivers will not pull over, but will instead either continue on or stay in place (if they are stopped at a red light, in a turn lane, etc) even if the vehicle is in the wrong lane heading toward them with horn blaring. We speculate that either 1) They’re thinking “Oh crap oh crap an ambulance wait what do I do I know it’s different from back home oh crap” and freeze rather than doing the wrong thing or 2) that’s what you’re supposed to do back home when you see an emergency vehicle - stay put and let them navigate around you, rather than getting out of their way.

So, those of you who’ve lived in China and associated areas - which is it? Or something else? The people who do this seem to be mostly middle-aged and older, who probably were driving for quite a while back home and haven’t adjusted yet.

It definitely seems to be a social issue in mainland China, combined with congestion and low fines for serious traffic infractions:

http://www.bjreview.com.cn/forum/txt/2012-12/24/content_508393.htm

http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2012-12/12/content_16007894.htm

I don’t know about China, but a few months back someone posted a link to a video of a British cop driving down the road with his siren going, and all the other drivers just kept right on with what they were doing.

It has been suggested that the growth of automobile use in China has happened so fast that it has outpaced the development of its road-safety norms and liability laws. This can manifest itself in some very extreme ways; these articles explain (warning: with a great deal of distressing detail) why a Chinese driver who hits a pedestrian might conclude that it is in his interest to back over the pedestrian enough times to make sure that that person is dead.

Of course, the particular drivers noted by the OP might be responding to individualized factors and road conditions, and not a culturally-ingrained element.

On narrow streets and congested roads (common in many Asian countries) there is no place to pull over and get out of the way. It’s often better to keep the flow of traffic going. I think that’s why many Asian drivers aren’t conditioned to pull over immediately when they hear a siren.