Sunday, February 10, 2013

Traffic Accident

The number of traffic accidents was very high in city. Every now and then, I would go to the public bulletin board to look at the pictures of road accidents. Most were bicycle and car accidents. I heard from friends who in turn heard from traffic police in the city that an average of 8.5 persons died from traffic accidents each day. Bicycles were the main form of transportation in my city since the land was so flat. I would see farmers carry their two huge baskets on each side of their bicycles as they came to the city market to sell their produce. The baskets had to be a few hundred pounds. I even saw people put a whole sofa on the back of their bicycles. Just name it and it could be carried on the back of bicycles.
     I never really saw any accidents except once when Mr. Zhou and I went to the western part of my province to do some fieldwork. Not far out of a small town, we were on a public long-distance bus. The truck in front of us somehow bumped a farmer and his son who were on a bicycle. There was no dividing line separating cars and bicycles. The farmer lay on the ground with his head bleeding. His son didn’t cry but both of his legs were shaking while watching his injured father.
     The traffic stopped in both directions. Soon cars piled up in long lines. We thought that the farmer was dead. I was so scared that I could not even go close to the sight and I felt I was like the boy shaking inside. We had to wait until the police came and we didn’t know when because there was no way to contact them. We saw the farmer moving again. He struggled to stand up. It seemed like no one knew what to do. Most people on our bus were farmers or villagers. I started to ask the cars heading the other way which stopped to help take the farmer to the town hospital since they were going that way. I pleaded with the people for help in about ten of the cars. No one was willing to do so. They all said that we should ask the bus driver to turn around and take the farmer to the hospital because it was public transportation. Finally, we asked the bus driver. The driver said that if the passengers didn’t mind we could go back to town. I asked, “would anyone mind if we go back to the town hospital to just drop off the poor farmer and then continue to our destination?” Everyone was angry at the cars that were going to town but not helping. They said, “No, we do not mind saving our brother.” So our bus turned around and took the farmer to the local hospital. We don’t know whether he made it or not and what happened to his son or what happened to the truck driver.
     I was very upset that those smaller cars didn’t want to save a man’s life. Later on, I read a paper reporting a similar event someplace else. They reported the license number. The driver was punished for not picking up an injured person who needed medical treatment. We didn’t have fast communication in China at that time. The best way was whoever was there. For example, if police do not have a car, they could stop any car for a ride in order to chase a criminal, usually a robber in the city.