Hard at work on the streets of Taipei

Taiwan Road Safety Dummies 1 台灣的工程用假人一號

Road safety dummies are a distinctive feature of the streets of Taiwan. In Chinese they are generally known as engineering dummies 工程用假人 (pinyin: gōngchéngyòng jiǎrén), warning dummies 警示假人 (jǐngshì jiǎrén), or, more formally, electric flag-bearers 電動旗手 (diàndòng qíshǒu). According to law these robotic figures must be setup at all roadside construction sites to provide some measure of protection for workers as well as warn passing motorists and pedestrians of potential hazards. When hooked up to a car battery their stubby arms pump up and down, waving flags and other objects to direct traffic. Construction companies typically decorate these dummies with safety vests and hardhats, though it is not common for workers to express some creativity and personalize their dummies. Some of them even have individual names and histories! The rest of this post features photographs of some of the many road safety dummies I have encountered over the years.

A warning dummy in rural Changhua
A warning dummy hard at work on the streets of rural Changhua.
The face of construction
Working hard, or hardly working? This guy was lost in a reverie, gazing out over the rice paddies of Taoyuan.
Hard at work on the streets of Taipei
This grim purple-faced warning dummy blocks part of a busy street in downtown Taipei.
Elegant features on a warning dummy
A distinctive dummy working the streets of Taipei. You’ll see him again later on.
Road safety dummy on the Suhua highway
Working on the dangerous Suhua Highway. Here you can see the car battery that powers the dummy’s arms. This team has also gone to the trouble of adding rubber boots to the ensemble.
A road safety dummy appears up ahead
An unusual sight while riding through the backroads of eastern Tainan. Would you confuse this fluorescent apparition for an actual human being? Let’s take a closer look…
High fashion for this Taiwanese warning dummy
A face only a mother could love.
Worry lines on a Taiwanese warning dummy
Worry lines criss-cross the face of this warning dummy in Taipei.
Serious safety on the streets of Taichung
Face mask and safety goggles adorn this serious-looking warning dummy in downtown Taichung.
An orange dummy directing traffic
An orange-faced dummy directing traffic in Taipei. Any resemblance to current American presidential candidates is entirely accidental.
Same dummy, different day
Same dummy as before, six months later.
Why the blank face
Why the blank face?
Third eye dummy
Open your third eye, dummy!
Police dummy on the streets of Checheng
This dummy is dressed up like a police officer to direct pedestrians in the tourist town of Checheng in Nantou.
An imitation dummy at a gas staton in Changhua
An impostor! This gas station has hacked together something that vaguely resembles the others… but there’s something not quite right about it.
Another dummy on the streets of rural Changhua
Another dummy on the country roads of Changhua.
A warning dummy on the east coast of Taiwan
This dummy oversees roadwork on the scenic east coast of Taitung.

For more about Taiwanese road safety dummies I highly recommend checking out this story and accompanying gallery on Facebook by Edd Jhong 鐘聖雄. This article also offers an interesting take on this under-appreciated aspect of Taiwanese culture. And for another example of amusing, everyday stuff in Taiwan, check out my collection of Taiwanese scooter stickers.

1 Comment

  1. No wonder the Taiwanese believe in ghosts! Imagine driving down remote mountain and forest roads at night and seeing these things waving at you in the dim light! It would be terrifying, especially to kids!

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