To anyone who says Hong Kong's drivers are not good, I can only say they are the most improved driving population on Earth. When I arrived in the then British colony in 1974, the idea of personal cars had not caught on with the general populace. We had thousands of drivers in charge of trucks, buses and taxis, and many cheerfully admitted they had 'bought' their licences, sometimes for less than $1,000. In a radio interview, the president of the Rolls-Royce owners club admitted he did not drive any of his half a dozen Rolls-Royces. He said he had once had a driving lesson but found the whole thing too difficult and did not try again. He preferred to enjoy his cars from the back seat. In the late 1970s, taxi drivers were our best drivers, but even they would drive at 40km/h and honk the horn at every pedestrian in sight plus every other vehicle of any type on both sides of the street. In those days, people drove as they wished, switching from lane to lane without thought, care, or a glance in the rear-view mirror. Joining the fray in 1978 with a tiny Datsun, I quickly found Hong Kong was the world's greatest defensive driving school. To survive, I quickly adopted the attitude that every other driver on the road was a) a lunatic who had violently escaped from an asylum and b) had broken into a liquor store, stolen two bottles of whisky, consumed the contents of one and was consuming the other while driving. It worked. If you expected every other motorist to do something downright inconsiderate or insanely dangerous some time in the next three seconds, you could survive the chaos. It is to this attitude and level of alertness that I attribute 30 years of crash-free driving in Hong Kong. Nowadays, the hardest part for an expatriate is understanding that the use of indicators is not understood here. Those of us who naturally signal even a lane change are shocked that others can make the move without a signal or thought. In the past we would see the opposite - drivers so hesitant, they would come to a complete stop in the middle of the highway, waiting for traffic to clear so they could safely make the lane change - or reach the off-ramp two lanes away. The situation changed rapidly with the creation of the Independent Commission Against Corruption. Overnight, prospective drivers actually had to pass their tests to get driving licences. Considering how difficult it is to get a driving licence, Hong Kong drivers should be awarded medals for attaining the sacred document. The main problem is you cannot get your father, uncle or older brother to teach you how to drive. You must take lessons with an authorised driving instructor. For many years, that meant being cramped in an old, dirt-encrusted Suzuki with an instructor who chain-smoked, had not showered in a week and ate his rice-box lunch during the lesson. For many years it also meant nearly every dead-end street in Hong Kong was in effect a driving school parade ground. In a traffic-free cul-de-sac, instructors set up bathroom plungers with sticks and flags to mark a parking space so that beginners could spend hours (and thousands of dollars) trying to learn the technique of parking. Because the average 16-year-old westerner learns to park in about 30 minutes, I believe our Hong Kong learners were deliberately not shown how to do it until the tenth lesson. Anyone living within earshot of a dead-end street was subjected to hours of driving instructor cars beeping in reverse, beginning at 8am and ending around 11pm. My friends paid for 80 lessons before attempting the government driving test - and failed. One of the problems was that the government test was not conducted in a cul-de-sac. The driving test was their first experience of driving on an actual street, with traffic darting in all directions, and their parking test was between two cars instead of two bathroom plungers. This situation was greatly relieved by the creation of the Hong Kong School of Motoring, an excellent organisation that teaches on-road situations off-street, then teaches on-road in actual traffic conditions, and finally gives mock driving tests until the student feels ready to face the test. The School of Motoring has improved its techniques and equipment over the years. The last time I visited, it was to test the new Skid-Pad. A machine attached to the car caused various levels of skid, from mild rear-wheel to totally out of control - excellent advanced training for those already experienced in driving. No road safety story in Hong Kong can be complete without mentioning the double-decker buses. Until recent years, our bus monopolies bought their buses from the City of London, where they were considered no longer safe or serviceable. These swaying, smoke-belching behemoths where so unstable, even on flat roads, that they occasionally fell over onto each other on Queen's Road. Every week we had news of elderly people being caught in the doors and dragged for a block or two. Now we have a percentage of superb drivers. Some may have had their 'training' in night races, while others have honed their skills on the Macau Guia Circuit - but more are back from Canada, Australia, Britain and the United States with genuine road sense and an understanding of traffic flow. I hope we will see more of them.