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Traffic and road safety in Hong Kong

What’s the rush, Hong Kong? It’s the fear of being left behind

  • The fast pace of life in the city explains our tendency to not stop for anything, including ambulances
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 November, 2018, 11:02am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 20 November, 2018, 1:18pm

I am writing in response to the letter from John Monteiro, “Why don't Hong Kong drivers yield to ambulances despite flashing lights and sirens?” (October 28).

As Mr Monteiro complained, cars can often be seen speeding alongside an ambulance instead of pulling over, and I believe this is a result of Hong Kong’s rushed lifestyle, apart from Hongkongers’ general lack of consideration for others.

As a Hongkonger myself, I see how we rush to get some priority: if you work faster, you get a bonus, if you propose your ideas first, you get a compliment, and so on. We are all used to living in a place where we fight for priority. We start to think that speed equals success. We believe that doing everything quickly benefits us.

With this kind of mindset, we do not wish to lose any chance to get ahead. Even when we see the lights of the ambulance blazing and hear the siren blaring, the first thing that comes into our mind is our own benefit. What if we lose precious minutes by giving way? What if we fail to arrive on time? Consideration for others comes second.

Drivers who don’t give way to emergency vehicles are legally culpable

Why it’s always rush hour in Hong Kong 

Selfishness is a common characteristic among Hong Kong people. Other manifestations of this are not giving up seats on public transport, not helping blind people across the street or simply walking past someone lying on the ground.

It goes without saying that we should learn to be more considerate and caring towards our fellow human beings; to sympathise, empathise and think beyond our own selfish needs. Only when we learn sympathy will we know to pull over when we see and hear the lights and sirens of the ambulance, as the first thing that would come to our mind is that, for the unfortunate patient in the vehicle, this small act could well mean the difference between life and death.

Patricia Chiu, Tsuen Wan