DRIVING TIPS IN CHINA

Before you embark on your epic road trip, you have to become a legal driver. Unfortunately, China does not recognize international driver’s licenses, so if you want to drive in the country, you’ll have to procure a Chinese driver’s license. The good news is, if you hold a valid license in your own home country, this is a relatively straightforward process.

RULES AND REGULATIONS

  • In China, citations are almost entirely automated. Cameras are installed at practically every intersection, as well as at various locations along expressways. They take high-resolution images and you can even be issued a citation for smoking a cigarette or drinking a beverage while driving. Citations are mostly RMB150 (17 GBP/22 USD), and you will have to clear your citations before you can return the rental car. Citations follow the vehicle, not the driver, and since the vehicle will be registered to the rental company the notifications of a fine will be sent to them via text message.

  • Clarify with your rental company ahead of time how citations will be handled. Some companies may allow you to pay a flat fee up front to cover any that may be incurred. In general, expressway speed limits are between 80-120km/h. Drivers must slow to 80km/h when going through tunnels and must not change lanes.

  • Traffic police in China generally only exist to direct traffic. They’re usually on foot or motorbike, and tend not to issue citations unless there is a checkpoint setup. That means that when you see a police patrol car you don’t have to be nervous, nor should you pull over if it has its lights on. Chinese police cars will turn on their lights when they are “on the job” in order to make sure other cars clear the way for them. Again, the vast majority of all citations in China are issued automatically via camera.

SPEED LIMITS

These are the standard legal speed limits in Armenia for a car without a trailer. Variations from the speed limit will be signposted.

 

Within city limits                                   60 km/h (37 mph)

Outside city limits                                 90 km/h (56 mph)

Motorways                                             110 km/h (68 mph)

Residential areas                                  20 km/h (12 mph)

WHAT YOU SHOULD BRING ALONG

  • International Driver’s Permit (IDP

  • Insurance documents

  • You are required to have a warning triangle, first aid kit, and fire extinguisher with you in the car.

  • A road map of Armenia is useful in case you’re in an area without cell phone service.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

  • Driving in China often gets a bad reputation, and it is true that Chinese drivers tend to have less respect for the rules of the road than drivers in Western countries.

  • In China, speeding is common, cars change lanes seemingly at random, and they will often try and push into the front of a line of cars stopped in traffic after cruising down the emergency lane for a whole kilometer. On the expressway your main nemeses will be speeders and bright lights. In China, the use of the horn is common and even necessary but, after dark, bright lights are substituted for horn honking.

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