I have had the pleasure to take a taxi in USA, England, Russia, Jamaica, Mexico, Brazil, Canada, and maybe 6 other countries...and while it was pretty terrifying in Russia, nothing beats the heart attack one receives in China!! Fortunately, now I have been to Beijing, Chengdu/Sichuan, Shanghai/Suzhou/Hangzhou 5 times this past year and am ok now.
First, I was told it was very difficult to get a license to drive, that the manual was very thick with rules, the driver training exhaustive, and the penalties severe if problems are caused. In every city I have visited, maybe I have seen 20 police..half of which were at the airport.
Second..traffic lites seem to be suggestions, not neccessary to really stop. Driving in the opposite lane is ok if not too busy, just merge back when it gets crowed. People on motercycles, mopeds, bikes, tricycles, and whoa if you are a pedestrian are all targets for the kamikaze drivers. Going up on sidewalks is ok...going like a bat at of hell is ok...no speed frreeways remind me of the autobund in Germany. Why put in traffic lines??...they are to be run over. 3 cars will always go in the space of 3
Seems to me the craziest of all drivers reside in Sichuan, but I can attest they are crazy nation wide! In Chengdu, I saw my life in front of my eyes 10 days from the airport to my former gf's college. My pants almost were wet. Scary...this beats our Halloween.
That said next time I go to China, I will take taxis (and buses) of course. I am used to the thrill. The amazing thing I noticed that there are very few accidents (that I observed. Its as if there were anti-magnets.
Just some obeservations..so love China!