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What It is Like to Hit the Road

Please notice that we are parked on the center line

If you’ve been a frequent visitor to this blog, you’ve probably noticed that our delegation has visited two car companies. What you haven’t read is about what it’s like to hit the road.

Until now.

On Friday afternoon, after lunch, we set out for the last company visit of the week, at the Cummins Fleetguard facility in Pudong Xinqu. From what we’ve been told, this should be about a 30- to 45-minute drive. But the rules of the road in and around Shanghai are far different from the streets of Indianapolis, Chicago and even New York City.

Within a few blocks, our driver needs to turn left in order to enter an expressway. However, there is heavy traffic, nearing actual gridlock. If you’re in Indiana, you’re unhappy, but usually you patiently wait and hope there’s something interesting on the radio.

If you’re here in China, you find another path, even if it is a sidewalk.

While China is the world’s largest auto market, surpassing the United States, obviously, the learning curve for many motorists hasn’t caught up with vehicular demand.

The ubiquitous bicycles that Americans saw the Chinese riding aren’t as popular as they used to be.

The bus drivers we’ve had this week usually have skillfully maneuvered us through some amazing traffic, but today, even our driver faced a challenge — head on.

Approaching the overpass, where we will turn left, vehicles of all types had crossed the center line – a double yellow line that normally would suggest you can’t pass here. Traffic lights? What lights?

Four lanes of traffic were going in our direction, despite who was coming the other way.

Once we entered the intersection, then the real fun began.  Vehicles were coming from all directions. This is a place to honk loudly and drive a big truck. Brake lights abound.

And there isn’t a policeman in sight to help untangle this mess, so leave it to the bus and truck drivers to figure it out. To our surprise, our bus driver calmly got out, walks briefly out of our sight, until we see him directing traffic for everyone else.

Contented with solving the larger problem, he and other drivers get back in their large vehicles and we soon move on.

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