Sunday, August 7, 2011, 05:03 PM
Posted by Administrator
I am having trouble getting it out of my head that ...except for Paris.... there didn't seem to be a whole lot of policemen or police cars in any of the european countries we visited. They weren't on the highway and they weren't in town. (And, when you did see them, they weren't driving huge V8 powered Fords or Chryslers. They were driving small 4 door hatchbacks...30MPG and still room for two criminals in back.)

In Paris, there were cops. They traveled four to a car or stood around in groups next to foreign embassies. There were some at the Eifel tower but not at the Louve or Notre Dame Cathedral. Traveling in packs like they were, I imagined that if anyone did anything, the reaction would be for the four cops in the car to jump out and beat the perp to a bloody pulp before hauling him in.

In about 1,500 kilometers of driving, I did see a few people pulled over: by a motorcycle cop outside of Geneva; a car about to enter the A8 highway in Cannes; a black 5 series BMW in Antibes (waived over by "police assistants" who, I believe were looking for a black four door sedan...a black Peugeot also got waved over)....but in the U.S., in that amount of driving, I would have seen 50 or 100 cars sitting on the side of the road in front of flashing blue lights. Better drivers in Europe? No. High speed limits? Not on surface streets...highways are in the 75-85 range. Less money to pay cops? That's part of my theory.

About 3/4 of the way into our trip, as we left a small town about halfway between Grenoble and the Mediterranean coast, there was a flashing sign over the two lane road. More or less, it said (in French...which I do not speak): "THINK SAFETY WE ARE ALL RESPONSIBLE FOR EACH OTHER".

For the next three hours, the road ran by a fast moving river then headed up switchbacks until it was above the treeline with a 1000 drop to a rocky ravine and only an occaisional guardrail before it plunged back down in another servies of hairpin switchbacks. Up thousands of feet and then down, every kilometer of road needed a hundred shifts of Hertz's Peugeot's 5 speed transmission.

For the entirety of this part of the drive, while I was stuck behind a slow moving livestock truck full of sheep; as I was passed by speeding motorcyclists and drivers who were much more comfortable with mountain driving than I was; after I squeezed by a bus in the middle of a blind curve... I thought to myself "THINK SAFETY WE ARE ALL RESPONSIBLE FOR EACH OTHER".

The other part of my why-less-cops theory? The Europeans ...most of them... have all been hanging around their continent, together (except for a world war or two), for thousands of years and, maybe, more than us, they realize that they ARE ALL RESPONSIBLE FOR EACH OTHER.

We Americans, maybe, rely too much on the cops.

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