Monday, June 20, 2005

Need for speed

Yesterday, for the first time ever, I was caught speeding. On my commute home from school it is impossible to go faster than the limit of 40 or 50 kph in all but one place, and that’s just where I was caught. For most of my drive the roads are too narrow, windy, crowded or have too many stops to touch above 50 kph for more than a few seconds, but traffic clears up nicely when the road crosses the river and follows an overpass avoiding the intersection below. On this particular section, 50 kph seems like a crawl and everyone pushes their car to at least 60 kph. As I was descending the overpass, picking up a little speed, two men ran in front of my car waving large red flags. Not expecting someone to dash in front of a speeding car, I slammed on my brakes and swerved to avoid them. They then gestured for me to pull over and asked if I was in a hurry because I was speeding. I always think it’s unfair to point the radar gun at people descending a hill or something, but considering I was driving 76 kph in a 50 kph zone, I had little excuse. What really did irk me was the stiffness of the fine, 18,000 yen or around $220 CDN, and the fact that people don’t get in trouble for running red lights or watching TV while driving; two very common driving habits in Japan that I would consider much more dangerous.

I suppose though that the fine did serve its purpose. It has made me slow down to the speed limit (or just a little over) and I suppose this makes things safer for myself and the public.


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