Beijing Fender Bender

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Given the swirling mass of cars, bikes, and scooters here, I guess it was bound to happen; I was in my first little car accident in China today. It was a totally minor thing where another car changed lanes into my car; we were stopped and the other car was moving about three miles per hour -- just enough to put a little dent in my left passenger door.

The more interesting thing was what happened next. After we got out of traffic, my driver and the other driver started chatting (mostly amicably). The other driver was new as was his car -- no plates or insurance yet (the plastic was still on his seats). A policeman who was directing traffic nearby came over. As I sat in the car, I watched some more chatting, a few phone calls, then the other driver handed my driver 400 RMB (about $60 USD). We then drove off.

Since the other driver didn't have insurance, everyone agreed to an on-the-spot cash payment. The estimate for our damage was about 300 RMB (about $45 USD) so my driver asked for 400 RMB to be sure. (It's amazing how cheap car repair is here. The same damage would easy have been $400 USD in the US and maybe more.)

I have to admit, it was pretty cool how quickly everything was resolved. There were no police forms, insurance claims guys, etc. Apparently, this kind of resolution is pretty common.

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Mary Ann Reply

I just want to say that I enjoyed reading this, Tony.

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