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"What the fuck is a car? Asian kryptonite?"
—Carlos Mencia

The stereotype that Asians are bad drivers. If it is to be believed, Asians simultaneously drive too fast and too slow, supposedly 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 Asian countries 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, they are generally in a hurry.

The stereotype being used on Asians outside of Asia likely has to do with anti-immigrant prejudices. In the US, it doesn't help that there are several prominent Asian immigrant communities in California and New York, two 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. There is no excuse for this trope to be used against Asians outside Asia.

Compare Women Drivers.

Examples of Asian Drivers include:


Anime and Manga

  • A reverse example where Italy from Axis Powers Hetalia 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.
    • 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 attendent motoring mayhem.)

Film - Live Action

  • In the Nicolas Cage film Gone in Sixty Seconds, one of the team members is now a driving instructor, and his most hopeless student is an Asian woman. It's plain insulting.
  • Hikaru Sulu accidentally leaves the Parking Brake on (or external inertial dampers) on the Enterprise in Star Trek XI. Luckily, it saves the ship.
    • 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?
    • Averted completely in Star Trek V, when Sulu pulls off some ridiculous fancy Coming in Hot maneuver with a shuttlecraft.

Live Action TV

 "I secretly harbor racist views, racist views, racist views / I secretly harbor racist views / I don't think Asians drive well."

    • In this case, "Asian" is used in the British sense, meaning someone of South Asian descent (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh etc.).
  • 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?

  • 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 guy[1] drive!
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Memes

  • Madam Kim

Stand Up Comedy

 "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.'"

  • 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...

Real Life

  • Averted. Hard. With Keiichi Tsuchiya, known as the drift king. He invented drifting. He is the editorial supervisor for the Initial D anime. He even managed to drive with one hand taped to the wheel with duct tape.
  • But played straight in Formula One. The category has had 24 drivers hailing from Asian countries (20 of them from Japan), and only three of them managed to score over 10 points throughout their career's spans (which, considering a career's time, is a measly total): Satoru Nakajima (16 points in five seasons), Takuma Sato (44 points in seven seasons) and Kamui Kobayashi (65 points in three seasons - granted, this was after F1's punctuation system was changed to one similar to what Indy uses).
  • South Korean woman passes driving test after 950 attempts.
  • Some of the contestants on Canadas Worst Driver happen to be Asian. The "winner" of Canada's Worst Driver 3 was Jason Zhang and Emily Wang was runner-up on the fourth series. The non-Asian contestants are just as bad.
  • Many Filipinos actually take some twisted pride in their reputation for bad driving. One favorite joke is "Westerners say Filipinos don't know how to drive. Filipinos say Westerners don't know how to survive." Some variation of the joke is also present in India, Vietnam, and, well, pretty much every Asian country with high traffic density and poor enforcement of motoring laws.
    • In the Philippines, traffic laws are so lax, they're only enforced in "traffic discipline zones", normally large busy intersections in dense urban areas, which are clearly marked with signs all around.
      • Let's go over that again, the only places where traffic laws are enforced in the Philippines are specifically marked zones. Everywhere else, well...have fun.
      • Even by Philippine Standards, the worst drivers are Jeepney, Bus and Truck drivers. So, in a land where there is virtually no law outside of areas, you'll be watching your back for any vehicle bigger than your car. Have fun going to work tomorrow.
    • In Thailand, people routinely drive on the wrong side of the road, and a pedestrian crossing with a green walking man illuminated is no guarantee that you won't be nearly killed by a horde of motorcyclists driving directly towards you. Thai drivers, however, are not so much bad as this is the way they have to drive to get anywhere on Thai roads. Their control of the car and ability to squeeze through tight spaces is excellent.
    • In some rural highways in China, jaywalkers and drivers routinely play chicken with each other, trying to see which person would actually stop to let the other through.
    • China's new superhighway systems are amongst the deadliest in the world. Many experts believe that it is because of a fatal combination of inexperienced drivers who are traveling at high speeds.
  • Japan is the only developed country where more people are killed by cars than in them. This is most likely because a lot of surface roads in Japan are ridiculously narrow and don't have sidewalks.
  • George Takei has lampshaded this trope on his Twitter.

 “I tell young people today, I broke that Asian driver stereotype decades ago by being the best helmsman in the galaxy.”

Western Animation

  • 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.
    • Also, in one episode, a carriage of Disney Princesses crash in a horrific and gory way: it's revealed that it happened because they "let Mulan drive".
  • 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.

  • One gag in Family Guy depicts an Asian woman cutting across to the other side of the highway without signaling, causing many cars to crash into each other.

  Woman: How much signal I need to cut across eight lane? None? I turn now. Good luck everybody else!

    • "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.
  • 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".

Notes

  1. Sulu
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