|Does anyone know what is going on in this intersection?|
|I took this photo because the grass around the driving course was on fire, but it didn't really come out|
|This takes a bit of getting used to... my heart still leaps into my mouth sometimes as I drive under the red light.|
|Yes, this is a kid's bike with a baby seat. In case that isn't terrifying enough, notice that there is only ONE helmet.|
Marshmallow Sensei writes:
The thing is the stats are what bother me, because in the talk I received on the matter the focus was certainly not on lives lost, but the punishment and damage to the driver. The fines paid, the loss of your job because you can’t drive, your family leaving you because you can’t support them anymore. Little mention of the victims involved beyond the driver.The idea that a car is potentially a weapon doesn't get much currency here. On the rare occasion that someone does get busted breaking a road rule, in my experience they without fail describe it as a result of bad luck, not their own transgression. The conversation goes like this:
"I got a traffic fine."
"Oh, what happened?"
"I was unlucky."
"Yeah... what did you DO?"
"Oh, I was exceeding the speed limit by 20 kmph while talking on my cell phone."
"That's pretty bad..."
"Yes, very bad luck."
Running red lights, ignoring stop signs and driving the wrong way down one way streets are all done without batting an eye-lid. A member of my naginata club once said that she had been pulled over going the wrong way down a one way street. The police officer had let her off with a warning but she was deeply affronted that he had even pulled her over because "everyone drives down that street." The other club members chimed in with agreement. Apparently to get to the opposite end of the street without breaking the law requires driving for an extra five minutes, which is entirely unreasonable. The police officer was totally out of line, they all agreed.
It is this disregard for life and law that makes Japanese drivers so scary: they drive as though there is no one else on the road. Screaming U-turns across five lanes of traffic. No indicators (Americans say blinker, right?). Parking on the highway using the "park anywhere lights" (hazard lights) and leaving the car unattended to go shopping, forcing everyone to swerve into oncoming traffic to go around you. Driving down the centre line between two lanes. These behaviours are scary, but when you are on two wheels they are even scarier.
But they so easily could have been, and she didn't think twice about it.
But that's a downer to end a post on, so here's a random road video. What starts out as a sunny morning with clear blue skies can become this within the space of two hours: