Scooters are Death Machines in Taiwan

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Scooters are Death Machines in Taiwan

Postby Tomas » Sun Feb 19, 2012 11:22

If you go to the emergency room anywhere in Taiwan, at any time of day, you'll see that typically more than half of the people awaiting treatment were injured in scooter accidents.

Every year or two, we read about another great human being who some of us know getting killed, maimed, or made into a vegetable because of a scooter accident.

Taiwanese people are in general lovely and easy to be around, but when they get behind the wheel of a car or behind the handlebars of a scooter, the devil comes out. Not everyone is like this, but there is obviously a problem with dangerous driving and lack of enforcement of traffic laws in Taiwan. There are too many people who don't know how to drive well or who choose to drive dangerously.

A few years ago, Taiwan was rated #4 in the world by Time Magazine for traffic fatalities per capita. Only Thailand, India, and China had us beat.

If you absolutely have no choice other than to ride a scooter*, I understand the need to do so, but if you have a choice and you love your family and want to stay alive, you should seriously consider retiring your death machine before you too end up in a hospital on life support, or dead. We want you to stay around, and stay healthy. Please think seriously about whether you actually need to ride a scooter.



*I'm not sure about motorcycles. I have a few friends (sandman, etc.) who swear by them, and wear lots of solid safety gear. There may be something about them and people who are very experienced riders that makes them safer. If I had my choice, I'd prefer that none of my friends get onto motorcycles and drive them on the streets of Taiwan. It's just too risky.
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Re: Scooters are Death Machines in Taiwan

Postby Kal El » Sun Feb 19, 2012 12:49

Tomas wrote:If you absolutely have no choice other than to ride a scooter*, I understand the need to do so, but if you have a choice and you love your family and want to stay alive, you should seriously consider retiring your death machine before you too end up in a hospital on life support, or dead. We want you to stay around, and stay healthy. Please think seriously about whether you actually need to ride a scooter.

You are no doubt right, Tomas. But getting a car isn't as easy as it sounds. I've looked into getting a new one, as I'm obviously here for good. I walked into a Mazda dealership and had a look at the Mazda 2. The good news is that I can get a loan on my TARC. The bad news is the car is 690-730k depending on what you want. That's a hell of a lot of dough every month, not even starting on gas etc. I'm not sure I can afford it. I have heard that the Toyota Vios is pretty affordable at 550k (about 9K/month over five years), but still gas, taxes, insurance, parking, is pretty damned expensive. And I would like to actually be able to buy a house or apartment sometime!

It's a tough choice. I'm a single father, single income and my expenses every month with kindergarten etc is already high leaving very little to save towards a house as it is. Not sure how someone like me can manage if I buy a car to replace my scooter.
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Re: Scooters are Death Machines in Taiwan

Postby Dragonbones » Sun Feb 19, 2012 14:10

Sure, a car is safer, but it's so hard (and expensive) to park here, and cars are above many people's budgets, that a scooter is often more practical.

Plus, I'lll bet a LOT of the injuries and fatalities could have been avoided with a properly fastened, high-quality helmet. A $15-18k Arai or Shoei is a helluva lot cheaper than a car. Helmets should fit very snugly, and tightly adjusted double D ring straps are best. A cheap helmet is almost worthless, and one with a loose or unfastened strap is as good as not wearing one.

A lot of the casualties could have also been avoided if people rode defensively, sober, without excess speed, and with full attention. Even if everyone around you is a maniac, if you do all the above, you stand a decent chance. I've ridden a scooter for 17 years here and am still in one piece.

But yeah, it's good of Tomas to remind everyone of the dangers. I did buy a car, for safety, last year, and drive it when I can.
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Re: Scooters are Death Machines in Taiwan

Postby Tomas » Sun Feb 19, 2012 14:21

Bis, I understand. My purpose is not to criticize people who must ride a scooter.

In your case, I wonder, do you need to buy a new car, or could you look into buying a used vehicle? I've heard of people getting reliable cars for very little money.

The other option is public transport. My wife and I have a car, but I generally use buses, the MRT, taxis, and my feet to get where I need to go. I won't ever get on a scooter again, and won't allow my kids to do so. It's just too dangerous. Life is too precious.
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Re: Scooters are Death Machines in Taiwan

Postby Tomas » Sun Feb 19, 2012 14:27

DB, if my thread gets a few people to reconsider the necessity of riding a scooter, I'm happy. I'm heartsick, reading these threads about good people dying or getting horribly injured while on scooters. Some of them are parents.

I think, at the very least, those who ride scooters could do an equipment check. Get that big, protective, full-face helmet. Wear the right clothing. Make sure your brakes are working well. Make sure you have big rear view mirrors.

And assume the worst every time you get on the road. People will blast out of alleys without looking. Car drivers will weave all over the road at high speeds. Other scooters will fly through crowds of pedestrians and other scooters to get somewhere one second ahead of time, with no consideration for the safety of others. It's an absolute jungle out there.
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Re: Scooters are Death Machines in Taiwan

Postby Hannibal » Sun Feb 19, 2012 14:36

A lot of the casualties could have also been avoided if people rode defensively, sober, without excess speed, and with full attention.


I think the big one in there is sober.

I love riding my scooter and all motorcycles I owned previously. :thumbsup:
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Re: Scooters are Death Machines in Taiwan

Postby jimipresley » Sun Feb 19, 2012 14:46

I don't get it. Public transport and taxis are so cheap and easily accessible in Taiwan. It's fine to have a motorcycle for weekend excursions, but I'm baffled why relatively affluent people would run the gauntlet of potential horror that is the selfish, idiotic Taiwanese commuter in order to save a coupla bucks. :facepalm:
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Re: Scooters are Death Machines in Taiwan

Postby cfimages » Sun Feb 19, 2012 15:15

In Taipei especially there's not really any need for a scooter. We make do fine with public transport and that's heading into the city most days from our place in Danshui - often 30-60 mins each way on MRT. When we do need transport, eg going to the supermarket, we just take a taxi home. From Tianmu Carrefour to Danshui is less than NT$300. That's maybe once a fortnight. When we have kids in the next year or two, we'll probably look at getting a used car.

Outside Taipei and the situation might be different. Mrs cfi had a scooter when she lived in Taichung and actually gave her scooter to her mother (who still lives in TC) after moving to Taipei. During the 5-6 years I lived in Zhanghua, I made do with walking or taxi.
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Re: Scooters are Death Machines in Taiwan

Postby Dragonbones » Sun Feb 19, 2012 21:56

Tomas wrote:DB, if my thread gets a few people to reconsider the necessity of riding a scooter, I'm happy.


I hear ya; it's a good idea, and a good thread. :thumbsup:
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Re: Scooters are Death Machines in Taiwan

Postby Kal El » Sun Feb 19, 2012 22:36

jimipresley wrote:I don't get it. Public transport and taxis are so cheap and easily accessible in Taiwan. It's fine to have a motorcycle for weekend excursions, but I'm baffled why relatively affluent people would run the gauntlet of potential horror that is the selfish, idiotic Taiwanese commuter in order to save a coupla bucks. :facepalm:

Not in Tainan, mate. It's scooter, car or walk. Walking isn't an option.
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Re: Scooters are Death Machines in Taiwan

Postby TheGingerMan » Sun Feb 19, 2012 23:45

Get stuffed, any and all, that whinge on about scooters.
Next, we'll be hearing equally loathsome rot about how guns are bad....
If that's my number, I'll take it head on, leaning into that last curve.
Keep your moralizing to those of empty skull and limp wrist.
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Re: Scooters are Death Machines in Taiwan

Postby sandman » Mon Feb 20, 2012 01:07

I use a scooter to get down the hill of my community to the bus stop. Or rather, my wife does. I use the car exclusively and have done for a couple of years now. I won't ever in my life swing my leg over a two-wheeler under normal circumstances. Not worth it. A good Arai helmet, sure, still costs around NT$20,000. If you bought my car or one like it, it probably wouldn't cost a great deal more than that. I rode bikes for many, many years. Big ones, little ones, tiny ones, race ones, souped up devil-machines and buggered ancient scooters with the bits falling off. Not worth it. I was lucky to get away with the injuries I got. Luck runs out, though. And especially here.
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Re: Scooters are Death Machines in Taiwan

Postby asiababy » Mon Feb 20, 2012 08:15

Tomas wrote:Bis, I understand. My purpose is not to criticize people who must ride a scooter.

In your case, I wonder, do you need to buy a new car, or could you look into buying a used vehicle? I've heard of people getting reliable cars for very little money.

The other option is public transport. My wife and I have a car, but I generally use buses, the MRT, taxis, and my feet to get where I need to go. I won't ever get on a scooter again, and won't allow my kids to do so. It's just too dangerous. Life is too precious.


The car I drive was TWD25,000 and it runs pretty well. I am lucky in that my husband has a bit of experience as a mechanic so he could sort through some of the rubbish people were selling. The van before that was only two years old and under TWD150,000. You certainly don't have to spend a fortune if you have time to look around before purchasing.
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Re: Scooters are Death Machines in Taiwan

Postby Anonymous » Mon Feb 20, 2012 11:35

the biggest problems here are cheap-ass helmets and few people following road laws.
I just have to look out of my window for 5 minutes to see a handful of them being broken, and I'm in Taipei.
Nothing I can do about it except driving very slow, cautious (especially at night) and wear a good quality helmet.
I wonder what kind of helmet Kevin was wearing and how fast he was going. Don't go over 40 km/h (25 mph) in the city!
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Re: Scooters are Death Machines in Taiwan

Postby Beaker » Mon Feb 20, 2012 11:52

I've been in three accidents since coming here, one of them my fault. My last one some guy in a car ran a red light and gave me a good smack. My helmet held through, but I realized that sometimes on a bike, just a normal dude who isn't paying attention can really wreck your day.

All three, I've walked away from with only varying amounts of minor blood loss. I consider myself pretty lucky as far as that goes.
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