Sunday, 2 May 2010
Driver's young and old Japan says: "Identify Yourselves"
Have you ever driven behind an elderly or new driver and wondered what was going on? Have you ever been elderly driver and wished that people would respect your slow speed and stop passing you with the bird raised in your direction? Yes, here in Japan, a very aging country, all old drivers (70 and over) must put an "autumn leaf" emblem on their car (front and back) to warn all around that this person might do erratic or slow things. And if you are a beginner you must be identified with an "opening bud" emblem to warn all of your inexperienced status. The system is rather comical as you drive along and get frustrated with grandpa and his rice fertilizer along a one way road. Before anger tempts you to honk, your eyes lower to the autumn leaf emblem and you are reassured that they "already know". I was driving into a parking lot just last week when a woman slowly turned into the entrance with the wrong direction signal and then stopped in the entrance for a good 25 seconds, peering her head out of the window with a lost look. Again, before I grew impatient and honked my eyes dropped to see a fresh opening bud, a new driver, poor lost little thing.
I have a few concerns about targeting the elderly and forcing them to identify themselves, but I never get angry when an autumn leaf does the wrong thing or drives along at 20km. While it might be embarrassing to show up at a date with an older girl with an opening bud, you might be spared the bird being flipped your direction and almost run off an overpass for choosing the wrong lane. At least they do not make us put a "foreigner" sticker on our car, now that would be downright obscene, what would they make the leaf shaped like?