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Friday, March 7, 2014

Japanese Tourists Cause Police Chase In US

You're going to read this story and wonder aloud just why no one was killed.

This story is NOT about over-zealous American cops not understanding their quarry, it's actually about Japanese folks not having a single clue about another country's rules, regulations...

No... wait... it's about the fact that these Japanese tourists SHOULD have known what to do because all it requires is common sense.

On February 22 - at 1AM, Utah Highway's DUI (Driving Under the Influence of alcohol) patrol unit spotted a car on Interstate 15 (near the Utah-Arizona border) going a mere 37 miles per hour (60 kph) and swerving between lanes.

Spying the erratic driving, Lt. Brad Horne, Utah Highway Patrol’s DUI unit commander figured: drunk driver—turned on the lights and sirens to pull them over.

Now... speaking hypothetically, if I saw police lights in my rearview mirror, I'm going to immediately swear, slow down, pull over, stop and turn off the death metal music while spraying the car with an air-freshner so no one smells the marijuana. That's a joke, but you know what I mean.

Instead, the driver figured that driving 37 mph (60kph) wasn't good enough and sped up to 75 mph (120 kph).

For dramatic effect, the article I read about this says that the driver then began driving erratically, but apparently they were doing that before, with the low speeds and the swerving - come on Brad, nail those facts!

He says that her speeds (HER?! A-freakin'-Ha!) fluctuated between 40-75 mph (64-120 kph) and she began weaving her car across lanes and even onto the side shoulder.

How long this went on, is not mentioned, but we do know that Officer Horne says that there were soon three patrol cars chasing after the speeding weaver. In fact, we also know that other police officers were closing off highway ramps... and were deploying tire spikes across the road ahead.

Now... I've hit tire spikes before - but only when I play Need For Speed (I have many versions) on my PS3... the car shakes, sparks fly, you have little to no control... not fun... Mine was only a video game, but imagine what it would have been like for the driver of this car?
Police spike strip.
Well, the car lost three of its tires after hitting a spike strip, and skidded to a stop.

From the moment the police officer put on his flashing lights and loud siren, the pursuit lasted a total of seven miles (11 kilometers). That's a long distance, and it takes a fair length of time to drive that far. Ten minutes... maybe more?

But... it's not over yet.

After a pursuit, the police now want to make sure they aren't going to be shot at because their gun rules are lax enough to warrant that concern amongst law enforcement officials.

So... a policeman in his car uses the loudspeaker to loudly tell whomever's in the car to exit... and to walk backwards slowly. Although not mentioned in the article, I'm sure the police also wanted the passengers in the car to keep their hands either interlocked behind their head or at the very least visible to the police.

Why? Because it's universally understood that showing your hands in a non-threatening manner is a great way to not panic the people pointing a weapon at you.

So... with both stretches of Interstate-15 closed - in case of stray bullets, the police tensed themselves to deal with some tough as nail bastards.

What they got...

a woman in her early 40s... a Japanese woman...

"She would walk forward, backward, spin around—obviously she had no clue what we wanted her to do,” says Horne.

Now... if I was a police officer—I did try to become an RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) officer (effing poor vision) when I was in my early 20s before I went to Japan—and I saw a woman emerge from a car I had been chasing for 10 minutes in a high-speed chase, come out and start spinning around... I might think she's on drugs, highly unpredictable, has nice legs, and could still be a danger to myself and the other officers.

So... police officers still had their guns drawn as they moved closer to the female driver and the rest of the passengers still in the vehicle.

Now... the driver was still near the car, so as officers pulled her away from the car, more officers pulled a man from the passenger seat... and then they noticed that these people had a seven-year-old boy crying in the backseat... and they they realized that no one spoke English.

Really? What the fug did they learn in three years of junior high school and three years of high school English... that six years times two people... some one should have known something to say to the police, even if it was: "Have another donut, you fat pig" though I have no idea why anyone would ever say something as mean as that.

Oh... now that the police see who they are really dealing with, and that no one is drunk or crazed - just scared and English-challenged, the Utah police quickly changed tactics and sought out a Japanese-speaking police officer on the phone.


A Japanese-speaking police officer was found (in Utah!!?? Fan-tastic!) who relayed that they, the Japanese family, had arrived from Japan in California on Friday, February 21 and had rented a car and were driving to Bryce Canyon in southern Utah.

Officer Horne says that neither of the adults had their Japanese driver's license with them.

Anyhow, Horne learned through the translations that the woman driver had absolutely no idea what she was supposed to do when the police turned on its lights and sirens... so she sped up to get out of the way... hmmmm.

She kept bowing and apologizing to the telephone and the translator on the other end, saying she was sorry for crashing the car.

She still had no idea that she ran over police laid tire spike strips that took out three tires.

Now... here's my view on this whole situation, because it's a blog not a friggin' newspaper resource (at least not all the time):

Problem #1: If they did not have their Japanese driver's licenses with them, how the fug did the Japanese couple rent a car?!
Seriously... every car thief on the planet wants to know.
How can you rent a car to anyone if you don't know if they know how to drive?
Before I went to Japan, I actually filled out the paperwork, paid my $60 and received my International driver's license. I never drove a car while I was there, but I did ride a motorcycle a couple of times, which was enough to convince me that I should never ride a motorcycle again. But at least I was legal.
And...  I want you to know that I did that BEFORE there was an official Internet. I used common sense and asked questions of people before I left. I didn't rely on Wikipedia. You do know that anyone can create a Wikipedia entry, right? It doesn't mean that the information contained within is correct, either, of course.
So... no driver's license... and no problem getting a rental car... and no problem in taking said rental car out of State.
My wife said she read the article and assumed that they didn't have their license on their person... but dammit... they had to have had them somewhere in their luggage... but the news report implies they did not have the license at all... again... common sense dictates that a driver - regardless of country of origin - would have the brains to have their license on them.

Just so you know:
The State of California does not recognize an International Driving Permit IDP) as a valid driver’s license. The IDP is also known as the International Driver License or International License. While tourists can drive with a license from their home country, international students are considered by the Department of Motor Vehicle to be residents, and therefore are not eligible to use their home country license.

But... an international drivers license is meaningless unless you have a valid license from a foreign country where you are resident.

So... even if the Japanese folks had a valid international driver's license... they would still need to prove they had a valid Japanese driver's license!

Problem #2: No license? Why no ticket? You and I get screwed by the police if we can't produce our license... or registration or car insurance... we get a ticket and a court date... granted that means we get a chance to prove we have these items... but the Utah police just let the Japanese folks go. How do we know that? No where in the article are the Japanese folks named. Therefore... no charges... not guilty of anything.
How are they not charged for not providing a valid Japanese driver's license at least? Officer Brad...

This is an example of a SAMPLE Japanese Driver's license. Our tourist should have been able to provide this to the police - even if no one in Utah could read or understand it. Give her the breathalyzer!
Problem #3... the Japanese tourists assumed the road signs were in Metric, and thus when they saw 60 as the speed limit, assumed it was 60 kph. Of course, the US is one of three countries in the world that does not use Metric, still clinging to the old Imperial system of measurement. The other two countries are Liberia and Burma (or is it called Myanmar? I thought Myanmar was its new name, changed over 10 years ago, but recently I saw the BBC call it Burma. The BBC wouldn't make an error like that... so what's up?)
Anyhow... doing 60 kilometers an hour? They were in a 60 miles per hour area... so they were going too slow... they should have been driving the equivalent of 100 kph.

Problem #4: Why are you swerving all over the road? Of course the police are going to wonder if you are drunk. Especially at 1AM! Police like to stop drunk drivers to not only protect the driver but to protect everyone else on the road or just outside. The police had every reason to try and stop the swerving, slow-moving vehicle.

Problem #5: When police behind you turn on their sirens and flashy lights, you do NOT speed up. Doing so and saying you were trying to get out of the way is bull crap.
You pull over to the side and slow down and stop so that any emergency vehicle can get past you safely.
This is common sense.

In this case, the police weren't trying to pass... they were trying to stop them... so if the Japanese tourists had stopped, the issue could have been resolved in a less violent way.
Not pulling over? Having police chase you? Having police trying to unsuccessfully pass you? Even after 10 seconds of speeding up... the fact that the police aren't passing by should tell you something.

Problem #6: Driver panic.
Panic, my ass... If you panic when you drive, you have NO business being on the road.

I understand that some people develop some sort of mental issue re: driving—a very good friend of mine has that... he never used to be like that! But now... he can't even drive on the highway.

He's getting help for it, but at least he's not on the highways which still kind of freak him out.

The conclusion of the police chase:
Long day at a close... and really... how long was that flight from Tokyo to California... and why were they driving in a strange land at 1AM (I know, it was like 4PM to them, Japanese time)... the police took the Japanese folk to a nearby motel and wished them good night and happy trails.

No charges were laid.

That's cool. Because even though no one was hurt, no vehicles were damaged - except for the Japanese folk's car tires... it could have been a lot worse than it ended up being.

I'll give Horne some credit here: "Red and blue lights are a pretty universal signal," he sums up. "Regardless of nationality and language, when we put lights on, people pull over and stop."

The only thing I have say, however, is that the police should probably have the California police check out the car rental company... to see why they rented a car to someone without seeing a valid driver's license... and to see just who is going to pay for the damage to the rental car's tires.

I assume the Utah police fixed the tires...or had the car towed to a garage to be fixed...

There was no language barrier here. This was essentially someone stupid or naive in not know the basic rules of the road, or possessing common sense.

U.S. State troopers are scary muthafuggers generally. Having a bunch of them pissed off because they had to chase you? Man... I can't believe the restraint shown by the officers.

Bravo to them!

Boo to the dumb Japanese driver who nearly got a lot of people hurt. Speeding up to get out of the way of the police? The Utah police actually believed that story? Yeesh.

Andrew Joseph

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