I had always told myself that I would never drive in Beijing. The rules of the road - more accurately, the interpretations of them - are far too chaotic, and I didn't want to find myself with the responsibility of navigating through them. But when faced with a friend unable to operate his manual-transmission chariot, I had to step up if we wanted to leave town. So I did. As I took my seat behind the wheel, I reflected that I had long lost my phobia about barrelling through traffic in the back seat of a taxi. Would that work against me as a driver? The answer came to me as I pulled into traffic: it didn't help. I make a good passenger as long as my cabbie stays awake, and pay little attention to how we get to the destination. It has been years since I've even raised an eyebrow over moves that might seem psychotic to anyone not used to the Beijing traffic flow. Put me behind the wheel, though, and it's another story. At least, for the first few kilometres. My first taste of driving through the streets of Beijing produced some of the most intense moments I have ever experienced. My hands clenched the wheel until they hurt. I could barely suppress screams of shock. I found myself begging out loud for the vehicles all around me to explain their outrageous moves. I was the pinball in the proverbial machine, bounced here and there with no real ability to move on my own. All my actions were thrust upon me by drivers who seemed on the one hand oblivious to my presence, and on the other, bent on my destruction. But then I discovered the logic at work on the roads of the capital. It is not a complex one, and upon discovering it, life - and driving - became a lot easier: namely, anything can and will happen. Once you know this, your chances of survival increase. Someone comes barrelling towards you at 150km/h on the wrong side of the road, and you dodge out of the way. Someone tries to change lanes as you pass them, and you swerve to avoid a collision. Question the events unfolding before you, attempt to understand them or fear them - and you will be eaten alive. This is not to say that knowing the logic of Beijing's roads will keep you alive. Over 600 of the city's drivers died in the first half of this year in traffic accidents. Nationwide, the death toll and the relative death rate from traffic accidents are the highest in the world. Ever since I took the wheel that once, traffic has not been the same for me. I am no longer oblivious to what is going on as I ride in cabs. In fact, I have a newfound respect of sorts for the drivers - well, most drivers - of this city. But you won't catch me behind the wheel again any time soon.