Chinese Traffic Jams Are Caused by Fear of the Number 4

Chinese Traffic Jams Are Caused by Fear of the Number 4

I visited China twice back in the late ’90s as part of an arsenic research project (story for another time) and I can attest to the incredible traffic congestion back then – it’s waaayyy worse now and it seems that at least part of the explanation is the fact that Chinese people avoid having license plates with the number 4 in them because its bad luck. “Four” sounds an awful lot like the word for “death” (in Chinese) so hotels and hospitals don’t have a 4th floor or room 4, etc… Cars are limited from traveling into Beijing on certain days depending on the last number of your license plate, so traffic patterns get completely screwed up on the days that depend on license plates that end in the number 4 – because nobody has that license plate. No matter how carefully the central planners try to manage every aspect of human life, they can’t ever factor in the one wild variable – human nature.


images-2images-1Something to think about  as I get ready to drive into Manhattan today.

Written by Poison Boy

Gerry O'Malley (a.k.a Poison Boy) is a board certified ER doctor and toxicologist with a interest in the unusual, terrifying and occasionally hilarious world of poisonings and toxicology. This site is an exploration of poisons of historical interest as well as in current events and pop culture.

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