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Driver's License

Just been to the local police station to renew my driver's license. You have to renew the license every 3 or 5 years in Japan. If you haven't committed any traffic violations for the past 5 years, you are granted a 5-year expiration date. Even if you have, if that was a minor violation and done only once during the period, you are given 5 years too. Otherwise, your expiration date will be 3 years.

And what about me? 5 years of course!

Well, actually I got a speeding ticket 4, 5 years ago. That was on a mountain road, and the police car was hiding neatly beside it. When I noticed the car, it was too late. Interestingly, I felt they did an artful job, rather than feeling angry. One of the policemen said, "I know how you feel about the legal speed. I don't say you have to keep the speed limit all the time, but please be careful not to speed exceedingly."

Fortunately, that was a minor violation.


Last Thursday was a stunningly warm and sunny day. I was driving along, trying very hard not to speed, as I was going through a neighborhood famous for it's speed traps. Sure enough, Mr. Policeman was right there in his usual spot hidden in the curve of the road.

As we rounded the curve out of sight, the driver in the car behind me flashed his headlights, a signal to oncoming traffic that they were coming up on a trap. Unfortunately, there was a second police car. When the policeman saw the drive flash his lights, he pulled him over. I wonder if it is actually illegal to flash your headlights in warning. Or was the policeman just going to bully the driver?

I used to warn other drivers, too. Not any more though. I often wish there were more cops around to ticket careless SUV drivers as they wander all over the road, speeding and talking on their cell phones. If one of them hits me (in my Mazda Roadster), I have six times the chance of dying that they do. I often wish that gas prices in America would go up to $5.00 a gallon, so that we could get rid of these damn SUVs.

We warn each other too, but I've never been signaled from behind. What a kind guy! And the cop is uncool.

I often hear about SUVs in the US. A kind of social phenomenon, right? Personally, I don't like SUVs, I mean, I'd never want to buy one.