Posted by: scribe9 | April 20, 2010

Iffy cars and driving

This car is parked a couple of doors down my street. Even though it’s only about 100 feet from the corner, the driver floors it when taking off at about eight in the morning. There are lots of similar cars around. Most of them are small Japanese sedans, with non-stock wheels, and at least one panel that doesn’t match. Many have large spoilers. Other cars get pressed into service: an old Mercedes 250 across the street, and even Subaru station wagons. Subaru WRXs are very popular.

The drivers seem to try to redline before shifting, and special mufflers make a sound like a major exhalation when they finally do. We hear a lot of them around town and on the highway. They’re known as “hoon cars”–hoon is short for “hooligan.” Down south last week someone in a car threw a half-full bottle of beer into a pedestrian’s face, causing serious damage.

 When we’re driving out in the country, at wide spots we frequently see doughnuts. (We see tire marks, but no pieces of tires–they must not allow retreads here.) In town, virtually every Saturday and Sunday we come across signs that have been broken off, and broken bottles in the gutter. Our region has some of the highest “drink driving” rates in New Zealand, at 20%. I’m not sure how that compares to the US statistics, but it’s obviously way too high.

Although there are a fair number of speeders here, most people drive at or under the limit because, unlike in Oregon, the police don’t cut you slack; the limit’s the limit. But people do tailgate a lot, particularly on hills like the one we live on. Fortunately, we haven’t seen any crashes.


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