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Asian Drivers

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"How much signal I need to cut across eight lane? None? I turn now. Good luck, everybody else!"
Asian woman, Family Guy

The stereotype that Far East Asians are bad drivers. If it is to be believed, Asians simultaneously drive too fast and too slow, supposedly (at least for East Asians) due to their eyes not being wide enough to see all of the road.

In Real Life, this may have something to do with lax traffic laws in Asian countries and the fact that widespread automobile ownership in Asia is a new phenomenon for millions of people whose parents could only dream of driving a car. The result is that many of the defensive driving training and techniques developed and stressed in the West have not yet been as widely adapted in Asia. Finally, probably as a result of the workaholism encouraged by many Asian cultures, they are generally in a hurry. Also, China and India particularly are very heavily populated, which could lead to traffic jams and accidents. Interestingly Muslim Asian drivers living in Western countries (mostly Muslims of West Asian and South Asian ethnicities) are usually stereotyped as being reliable Taxi Drivers or Delivery Drivers (sometimes Bus Drivers, in How I Met Your Mother, Ranjit Singhs is taxi driver, then a Limo Driver, while Rolf in Army of Thieves is the Get-Away Driver) typically as employers would see their lack of alcohol consumption makes them reliable driving employees.

The stereotype being used on Asians outside of Asia most likely has to do with anti-immigrant prejudices. In the US, it doesn't help that some of the prominent Asian immigrant communities are in California, New York and New Jersey, three states where the populations in general have reputations (backed by GMAC Insurance's annual study, no less) for being terrible drivers regardless of race. This likely means the Asian immigrants are convenient scapegoats for traffic accidents.

In fact, a study published in 2018 actually shows that Asian drivers are statistically safer, better drivers and therefore get lower auto insurance rates.

Compare Women Drivers.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • A reverse example where Italy from Hetalia: Axis Powers drives so crazily that Japan makes a safer car just so he never has to endure that experience again. Of course, this drives right into another stereotype: that of Italians being ridiculously unsafe drivers.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Among his other stereotypical Asian characteristics, Long Duk Dong wrecks his American family's host car in Sixteen Candles.note 
  • Crash, for all its racial-awareness apparently couldn't resist a terrible Asian driver with an horrible accent to cause said car accident.
  • In the Nicolas Cage film Gone in 60 Seconds (2000), one of the team members is now a driving instructor, and his most hopeless student is an Asian woman. It's plain insulting.
  • Averted in The Green Hornet Serials with Kato, who has no problems driving the Black Beauty over 200 MPH on city roads that were definitely not built for speeds anywhere near that high.
  • In The Pink Panther 2: When Clouseau makes an inappropriate remark to his Japanese colleague, he is asked by his manners teacher about whether or not he's prejudiced towards Asians. He says he isn't, except when it comes to them driving.
  • Quiz Lady: The stereotype of Asians being unable to drive is the basis of a joke when Asian-American sisters Anne and Jenny fight over the steering wheel and nearly crash into a small truck. The driver shouts that they can't drive. Jenny, always one to put her foot in her mouth, yells back that he's racist. He leans out the window to give them the stink-eye...and also turns out to be Asian.
    Jenny: ...Oh, hi!
  • Hikaru Sulu accidentally leaves the external inertial dampers (aka, the "Parking Brake") on the Enterprise in Star Trek (2009). Luckily, this mistake saves the Enterprise by causing them to arrive late to Vulcan, preventing them from being obliterated like the rest of the fleet by Nero.
    • This would be a more impressive example of a stereotype if it weren't for Kirk's ridiculously bad driving in the Star Trek TV Episode "A Piece of the Action," and the fact that Sulu "drives" the ship throughout the series. Why would a starship pilot know how to drive a car?
    • The example also seems to poke fun less at Sulu being Asian and more at him being fresh out of school and new to the controls, since he does fine after that.
    • Averted in Star Trek V, when Sulu pulls off some ridiculous fancy Coming in Hot maneuver with a shuttlecraft.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the pilot for 21 Jump Street, Doug teases that Ioki should not be allowed to drive any nice/expensive car. Ioki responds with "Hey! It's genetic."
  • The Big Bang Theory: Usually averted by Raj, but when driving Bernadette and Howard to the hospital he warns them that he's going to start "driving like he's in India" before honking the horn and shouting insults at other drivers.
  • Almost at least one shows up per season in the aptly titled Canada's Worst Driver.
  • In the Comedy Central Roast of William Shatner, Shatner at one point jokes about how brave a program Star Trek was. For God's sake, they let an Asian guynote  drive!
    • Shatner repeated the gag in the Roast of Charlie Sheen explaining that he understood why Charlie was acting so crazy was because Shatner's generation made it more difficult for Sheen's to do edgy things because they were now passe. He cites his famous kiss with Nichelle Nichols along with "Let the Asian man drive" as examples of edgy things done in his time that are just not so in the new millennium.
  • Referenced on the Community episode "Romantic Expressionism". Pierce is among the people wisecracking on a bad movie. He says the director "can't drive" due to being Asian. Senor Chang is present and not amused.
  • MADtv (1995): initially averted, then subverted in an "Average Asian" skit. Of course, the subversion was caused by his Aside Glance caused by the passengers' paranoia.
  • In one episode of Modern Family, Lily's Asian pediatrician complains that her mother expected her to get married and be a mommy instead of having a career. She says "The only way she'll be happy is if I'm some Asian stereotype, but that just isn't me." Then she drives off, hitting Mitchel and Cameron's garbage pail and a car parked across the street.
    • In a later episode, Lilly hurts herself when she drives her toy car into the wall. "Please do not blame me," Cam says. "We always knew there was a strong possibility that she'd be a terrible driver."
  • British sketch show Not the Nine O'Clock News parodied what was then a commercial for FIAT cars with Designed By Computer. (shots of car in outline desgn rotating on computer screen) Built by Robots (Shots of cars on assembly line being tooled by long sophisticated robotic arm). But driven by Italians (Shots of rush-hour traffic in Rome and attendant motoring mayhem.)
  • In the "Diversity Day" episode of The Office, everyone is supposed to treat the others as the race named on a card stuck to their forehead. Dwight demands that Pam treat him as his new ethnicity (Asian), so he could figure out what it was.
    Pam: Okay, if I have to do this, based on stereotypes that are totally untrue and that I do not agree with, you would maybe... not be a very good driver.
    Dwight: Aw, man! Am I a woman?
  • Power Rangers Lost Galaxy may have Kai Chen in a high position of power on the Space Colony, but he is not allowed to pilot the Rangers' spaceship.
    • Power Rangers Time Force averts this by making Lucas (who at least looks Asian) a racecar driver, albeit from the future. Although, he does seem to end up in traffic school a lot.
  • The That Mitchell and Webb Look sketch where David Mitchell receives a green clarinet that makes you tell embarrassing truths in verse has him retaliate against a woman who cuts in front of him in the supermarket checkout line by forcing her to confess:
    "I secretly harbour racist views, racist views, racist views / I secretly harbour racist views / I don't think Asians drive well."note 
  • In a season 3 episode of The Walking Dead Daryl says he rendezvoused with the group by following a crappy driver because he knew it would be an Asian- Glenn. The joke is after the Zombie Apocalypse there is no-one else on the roads.

  • "The Stereotypes Song" by Your Favorite Martian says that if you buy a drink for an Irish guy, they'll be out of control "like a Chinese driver".

    Stand Up Comedy 
  • Whenever Asian-American comedian Elliot Chang passes by a car accident, he says "Please don't be Asian, please don't be Asian."
  • Iranian-American comedian Maz Jobrani lampoons this along with Middle Eastern stereotypes:
    "We're making progress in this country. You know how I know this? I saw a car commercial, and the driver was Asian. Good for that car company. They're taking a stand. They're saying 'No, Asians can drive, and they will drive - our cars.' Then I thought, maybe they're making kind of a racist statement, like, 'Our cars are so safe even Asians can drive them.' But still... I mean, you're never going to see a Middle Eastern pilot in an airline commercial. [putting on accent] 'Come fly the friendly skies... my friend.'"
  • Carlos Mencia wonders what happens to some of the smartest, hardest-working people in the world behind the wheel (Asians, naturally). He then switches into Asian Speekee Engrish to act out an Asian person being confused by the pedals.
  • Indian-Canadian comic Russell Peters claims that he thinks the media perpetuates stereotypes more subtly in modern times. For example, on the news, if they show a car crash, the first person they cut to for a comment will be, if they can possibly manage it, an Asian person...
  • Ali Wong mixes this with Women Drivers when she calls out the people who see her trying to park and help her out as "so helpful and racist at the same time."
    "Fuck you! For assuming correctly about me! I could not have done this without you!"
  • A stand-up comedian once did a bit about a car game called "Guess the Race of the Driver In Front of You" and says that no matter what, you will always guess the same thing every time: Chinese.
  • One Asian comedian poked holes in this stereotype. "You think we can't drive? We make the best cars. You don't think we can drive them?!" Granted, the joke only works if the driver is Japanese; South Korean manufacturers don't enjoy the same sterling reputation and Chinese vehicles aren't even exported to the Western market.

    Web Original 
  • Dragon Ball Z Abridged - After the spaceship crash-lands with Bulma driving, Krillin quips that this is why women shouldn't drive. Bulma retorts that that's rich coming from the Asian.
    Gohan: Well, I'm half-Saiyan. What does that make me?
    Krillin / Bulma: FIVE!
  • Eat Your Kimchi frequently refer to the bad driving that they encounter. In the Halloween episode they refer to an approaching vehicle as a "murder car".
  • Referenced in Joel of Vinesauce's playthrough of RollerCoaster Tycoon 2. While setting up a bumper cars ride in his park, he notices that one of the music options is titled "Oriental", which sounds like stereotypical Asian music. He then proceeds to name the ride "The Asian Driver Experience".
  • Apparently, even Asians believe this about themselves. This satirical essay, written by a Chinese person, mocks other Chinese for excessively running red lights and honking horns.

    Western Animation 
  • In American Dad!, Stan and Roger were dropping Steve at school when a car crashed into them. Roger yells "Watch where you're going, Asian!".
  • In one episode of "Braceface", Sharon's grandfather believes that Maria (who is half-Chinese) will be a bad driver when she is old enough to drive. He believes this only because her parents (whom he has never met) must be bad drivers, because they are Asian and will teach Maria how to drive.
  • Di Lung from Courage the Cowardly Dog, especially in his first appearance from the episode "Hothead"; in said episode, he parks his red vintage hot rod all the way across an open road and nearly causes Eustace to crash his truck into said car in the process...before then incredibly-hypocritically yelling "WATCH WHERE YOU'RE GOING, YA FOOL" at Eustace while still having his car parked all the way across said road. Needless to say, Eustace is clearly not amused by this (in fact, he even blows Di Lung's car up with his mind as punishment for Di Lung's arrogance). Surely enough, Di Lung does not learn anything from said incident.
  • Drawn Together includes this in a no-holds-barred barrage of Asian stereotypes (against Ling-Ling, the Pikachu-looking monster), all of which are apparently caused by the shape of the eyes. In fact, it's Ling-Ling's failure at the DMV that kick-starts his side of the plot.
    • Also, in one episode, a carriage of Disney Princesses crash in a horrific and gory way: it's suggested that it happened because they "let Mulan drive". Subverted when it actually turns out that Captain Hero caused the crash in order to get back at Clara, who'd strung him along despite using him to fulfill her fetish of watching auto crashes.
  • Family Guy:
    • One gag depicts an Asian woman cutting across to the other side of the highway without signaling, causing many cars to crash into each other. Provides the page quote.
    • "How can Santa be Asian? He doesn't drive around at 20 miles an hour with his left blinker on!"
    • The NASCAR in China gag, where the whole field piles up at the drop of the green flag, then all the drivers start arguing with each other about who was at fault.
  • One King of the Hill has Hank go to a "Def-ensive Driving" course in search of a driving course without any gimmicks, only to discover that it is a Live At The Apollo-esque stand-up class. The "instructor" states that one of the most heinous mistakes he sees on the road is "DWO: Driving While Oriental".
    Kahn: Ooh, cheap shot.


Video Example(s):


Drawn Together

Ling-Ling passes all of the other requirements for getting his driver's license BUT the actual driving portion.

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Main / AsianDrivers

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