Safety Checks

by lphawaii

Lately I’ve become an expert at evading cops.  It’s like I’ve just robbed a bank.  I duck into alley ways, and turn off into side streets as soon as I see a cop in my rear view mirror.  When I come to a stop light, I always choose the longer line (cops choose the shorter line).  And I never make left turns.  If I make a left turn, I’m basically a sitting duck.  It’s too easy for a cop to pull up behind me and catch me.


Why all the fuss?  Well, because of my expired safety check sticker.


In Hawaii, safety checks are a state law.  Every year we have to go to a mechanic and ask them to check our car to make sure it’s “safe”.  Then he gives us a sticker for $20 bucks.  It seems good.  After all, we want safe cars on our roads.  But does it really make us all “safer”?


When my safety check sticker expired, I immediately took it into my mechanic to get the safety check.  He said, “Well, you have a tiny crack in your right rear light.  That doesn’t pass.”


I was thinking, are you kidding me?  The light worked, it turned on and off just fine.  Still, I ordered the part from E-bay.  Because we live in Hawaii, it would take more than a month to get here.


In the meantime, I was still driving my car, avoiding cops.  The problem is – avoiding cops doesn’t really make me drive safer.  I found myself looking out my rear view mirror more than I looked out the front window!  I devised all sorts of ways to make a quick getaway, but I also had some close calls with cars in front of me.


A few times, I almost hit a pedestrian.


Safety checks make cars safer, while making drivers less safe.  I can only imagine the other drivers with expired safety checks who were driving towards me, looking out their rear windows for cops.  Nobody wants to get fined more than $100 just for an expired sticker.


Finally, my tail lens came from E-bay, and I installed it.  The mechanic just checked all my lights, and gave me a new sticker for $20.  I was finally safe.


In Minnesota, we never had a safety check.  I drove for 10 years in Minnesota, in the sleet and snow, and I never got into an accident.  One time my rear light was out, and a cop pulled me over.  “Did you know your light is out?  You’d better get it fixed, could be dangerous.”  He let me off with a warning, and I went to the shop the next day and fixed it.  Piece of cake.


It does feel nice to be legal again, with my new safety check sticker protecting my car from harm.  But the same day I got a letter in the mail.  My car registration was expiring next month – time to renew!


The cost: $239.46.


I thought I had done something wrong.  Had I run a red light?  Was it those pedestrians I almost hit?  Maybe it was because I had driven for so long without a safety check sticker?  But it was none of the above.  My friends in Hawaii tell me “That’s just how much a car registration costs.”


At least the safety check pretends to protect me in some way.  A car registration is just plain old highway robbery.