Traffic Deaths in Taiwan: Know the Truth

Many of us wonder about traffic deaths in Taiwan; statistics are difficult to find (most of what’s reported is in Chinese).  One of the only decent raw resources can be found here, and it’s from 1993.

So what was Taiwan like twenty years ago?

A study was done of 4,329 traffic injury reports and the following statistics were discovered.

There were 1,652 traffic injuries for every 100,000 people; 2.5% of the men and 1.7% of the women died.

Taiwan had 21,000,000 people in 1993; that’s around 7,800 deaths from traffic accidents in 1993.

This means that there were 37.1 traffic deaths in Taiwan per 100,000 people.

To put that in perspective, Iraq currently has 38.1 per year and Afghanistan has 39.  Those are countries where explosives are planted on roadways.

Modern Taiwan is better, according to Taiwan’s Road Traffic Safety Commission (RTSC): in 2009, they claimed there were 17.5 traffic deaths in Taiwan per every 100,000 people.  They also found the same as the medical report analysis in 1993: 60% of deaths came from people on scooters/motorcycles and 20% were pedestrians.

But better is relative.  Malaysia has 24.1 per 100k and South Africa has a frightening 33.2.  However, the USA has 12.3, Canada has 9.2, and Germany has 4.5.




Taiwan’s Ministry of Transportation and Communication (MOTC) actively tries to hide this fact by using skewed statistical data from the International Road Federation (IRF); I have no idea where the RTSC got their data, back in 2009, but it looked like the branches of the ROC government were all running around trying to save face.

Suffice it to say, Taiwan is not the most dangerous place in the world to drive.  But it’s far from the safest.  There are a lot of traffic deaths in Taiwan.  Japan only has 3.85 deaths per 100k while the Philippines has 20; Taiwan, at 17.5, is much closer to its southeast Asian neighbors like the Philippines (20), Thailand (19.6), and Vietnam (16.1), than it is to the other Four Tigers, the Republic of Korea (11.3), Singapore (4.8), and Hong Kong (1.7).

Keep your hands and feet on the brakes and Rain-X on your windows, everybody.

Traffic Deaths in Taiwan

And keep your head on a swivel!




11 thoughts on “Traffic Deaths in Taiwan: Know the Truth

  1. I suspected the figures would be alarming just from my daily observations of the traffic chaos here and the % of motorcycle deaths is no surprise.

    • What shocks me is how a fifth of their traffic deaths involve people who were not in/on a vehicle, at all. I attribute it to the overall lack of awareness Taiwanese people have when they do things: they are so frequently self-absorbed that a car watching for pedestrians or pedestrians watching for cars is less common than you would expect.

      The most alarming result, to me, is how Taiwan stacks up against the other Tigers: I’m not sure how Taiwanese people live blissfully unaware of that reality, but it’s one of those indicative things, when it comes to their culture/law/lifestyle, here. Taiwanese people are extremely selective about their outrage, which is also always short-lived, so even if there was an outcry about traffic, it would last a month and then be forgotten. Outside of legislation to eliminate two-stroke engines from the streets, I’ve not seen any significant policy in Taiwan that has increased public safety, in the half-decade I’ve been here. Despite that fact that, each year, Taiwan loses a significant number of its citizens to traffic death.

      Look at the UK, a country with 60mil people and only 1500 traffic deaths a year, compared to Taiwan, a nation of 25mil people and 5000 traffic deaths a year. Or South Korea, a nation twice the size of Taiwan but with the same number of annual traffic deaths! It’s like Taiwan is blissfully oblivious to it all…

  2. The number of people in a vegetative state from scooter accidents is the most worrying statistic, google it.

  3. The amount of money which could be raised/saved by simply introducing heavy fines for traffic violations and therefore relieving the burden on the health service would be staggering. Wonder why none of the politicians, who clearly care about nothing at all except money, have noticed this?

    • Simply speaking, it’s because their clout is tied to their position: their position is tied to the voters. No politician wants to find themselves to blame for helping pass an unpopular law, lest they may be voted out of office (which is why Taiwanese law enforcement [outside of Taipei] is almost-entirely a joke). And Taiwanese would see levying huge fines as unpopular, especially if it were enforced, for the same reason that everyone complains about the traffic but everyone drives like a jackass (and what that politician is trying to avoid): responsibility. Taiwanese avoid responsibility like The Plague.

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  7. The figures from 1993 are of no use nowadays. In the 90s the roads where totally jammed with scooters and cars, scooter drivers thus used the sidewalks , scaring away pedestrians. More interesting are the underlying definitions of today’s statistic. Government and medias always cite figures, where only those who die on the spot or within 24 hours are counted as mortal cases. International standard is 30 days after.

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