United States: Japanese tourists caught in police chase

Police car with flashing lights Universal signal? A Japanese driver didn't appear to think so

A frazzled Japanese couple have been subjected to a high speed car chase with police and held at gunpoint on their first day on holiday in the US, after apparently misunderstanding traffic signals, it's been reported.

Officers in the US state of Utah say they spotted the car driving slowly and erratically on the motorway and signalled for it to pull over. But the woman driving reportedly panicked at the police cars' lights and sirens and sped off, trailed by three patrol cars, the Japan Times reports.

The chase ended 11km (6 miles) later, after the car drove over a row of tyre spikes. The motorway was closed in both directions as police feared a confrontation with an armed criminal.

The Japanese couple, unable to understand the police commands, were then pulled out of the car at gunpoint, as their seven-year-old son sat crying in the back seat.

The situation was finally defused after police tracked down a Japanese-speaking officer elsewhere in the state. But one officer was not entirely convinced that the woman didn't know what to do. "Red and blue lights are a pretty universal signal," says Highway Patrol commander Brad Horne. "Regardless of nationality and language, when we put lights on, people pull over and stop."

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