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Cultural Differences

Maintain Speed or Brake?
by Mavis; July 1, 2008


"The essay tells us of Mavis's experience and the confusion caused by driving in different countries. It's a true story, based on her personal experience, and outlines a problem that many new drivers will face. —Hongxin, Writing 12 student.

I wish I had never driven in China before I took the road test for a driving license in Canada. It would be much easier to pass the test if I were a new driver. The traffic rules in China are very different from those in Canada.

When I  approach an intersection where the light is green in my direction, I need to keep speed to pass through the intersection in Canada; however, I have to brake to reduce the speed to pass through it slowly in China. It would make me look crazy if I passed through an intersection at a regular driving speed.

In my mind, being aware of the environment and slowly passing through an intersection is a safer maneuver than maintaining my speed. Nevertheless, my coach told me keeping the road traffic fluid is one of the Canadian traffic principles. I would make the driver behind me confused and cause a collision if I braked suddenly.

I had had more than ten years driving experience before I came to Canada. Usually, I respond to road conditions automatically. In Canada, I have to remind myself “ No brake----, no brake----,” to change my driving habit. However, it is hard to remove a habit that has been formed in ten years practice. In my first road test, the examiner wrote a note on my test sheet: “ There are unnecessary brakings.”

I believe I have changed my habit now. But I am not confident to drive in China any more.