Bangkok is notorious for its traffic jams. Actually, although it does get pretty bad, in my experience the traffic jams one gets in Beijing can be a lot worse. It doesn’t help that the taxis (in which one usually gets stuck in a traffic jam) on the whole smell absolutely horrible in Beijing, while they are pretty ok in Bangkok. Another key factor is that in Bangkok the drivers still try to obey a semblance of the road laws, whereas in China everyone ignores good driving practice. In fact, in China it almost seems to be a competition to see who can gain an extra meter ahead no matter what. Have a look at this picture of a typical Bangkok traffic jam. At least they are still keeping in their lanes right? In Beijing they would have filled up all those gaps and you would have no idea where the lanes were.
Although it is a traffic jam, it does seem to be roughly organized. In general I’ve found the drivers in Bangkok to be pretty civilized. I recall one time in Beijing there was a traffic jam one way, and one driver had decided to make a quick dash across up the other side of the road – following which a large number of drivers (not wanting to let someone get ahead) quickly followed him. Idiots. So of course the opposite side of the road got blocked too (with all the cars now on the wrong side of the road). And since cars coming in the other direction couldn’t now get through, it had really well and truly jammed the road up. Very selfish drivers. Take a look at these Beijing traffic jams:
Anyway, I was reading recently about the Google project (where they had a car drive itself the length of the US), and this article says the technology already exists for cars to drive themselves and that the only hurdle are laws/regulations and people willing to take it up.
Personally I wish that they would get this done sooner rather than later. I think that the tests already done show that the computer driven cars are actually safer than people driven. The computer can react much faster than a human, so it would be safer. Naturally it would stick to the speed limit, and not indulge in any risky behaviors such as overtaking when frustrated or texting while driving! Also I am sure that it would be the best way to tackle the traffic jams – as I think that the computer would be unbiased in getting cars through traffic lights etc.
Not having to drive frees one up to do other productive things while stuck in the jam anyway. Already when I’m stuck in a jam I can access the Internet (through 3G) on my laptop and keep working.
Bring on the self drive cars.