Driving Tips

Butlers Korea
2019-08-29 11:36
Following are some driving tips to help you with your driving in Korea. This list should be read along with the Traffic Rules page in this section. See liability info page.
If you look in the rearview or side mirror and see a police car with its lights flashing, stay calm. It just means that the car and the officers are on duty. It does not mean you have to pull over.

Traffic etiquette is often based on the ‘might is right’ philosophy, which means that buses and expensive cars sometimes disregard traffic rules and even ‘bully’ smaller or less expensive cars.

After driving for a while in Korea, one learns that, while not mean or rude, some drivers appear oblivious of others when they want to change lanes, turn, etc. They seem to feel that the space on either side of their vehicle belongs to them and to believe that there is no one behind them. (Many people drive in a way that resembles how they walk.)

Koreans are generally in a hurry and it shows in the driving. It is not unusual for a driver behind a car stopped at a red light or at a pedestrian crossing to toot her/his horn impatiently to ‘encourage’ that car to get going regardless of pedestrians or the light. (As cameras have become omnipresent this tendency has decreased in recent years.)

Pedestrian walkways are usually placed a little ways back from the light, so drivers, in an attempt to gain a fraction of second, will run through the walkway, even if pedestrian have started across, to be on the traffic light side of the crossing. Buses are frequently guilty of this as well and consequently often end up blocking part, if not all, of the pedestrian walkway - this, so that they don't get delayed by pedestrians who have not finished crossing once the light turns green.

It is not unusual for motorcycles to drive on the sidewalk as if they were on the road – sometimes more recklessly even since they are in no danger from cars. This is against the law but there is little or no enforcement of the regulation. The number of cyclists is growing in Korea which has meant an increase in bicycles on the sidewalk, an additional challenge for pedestrians.

Although you won’t have traffic cops chasing you, there are cameras all over to catch traffic and parking offenders. The police regularly set up speed ‘traps’ and alcohol checkpoints. These are sometimes regular locations, but others are not. The latter are sometimes announced on Korean radio, but not always, and rarely, if ever, in English.

Police conduct alcohol level tests pretty frequently. Sometimes the locations are posted in newspapers (Korean) or announced on the radio, etc. while others are set up on a regular schedule. However, more and more sites are not announced and in varied locations at differing times. When you come to one, here's what you do: When you reach the officer, stop, roll down the window and quickly breathe into the breathalyzer – it takes only a second...if you pass the test.
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