That’s one way to beat a traffic ticket…

…although I suspect its a rather unique way:

This article, concerning the way physicist Dmitri Krioukov managed to convince a judge -via mathematics!- that his ticket for failure to come to a complete stop at a stop sign was incorrect, has to be one of the more interesting ways to get out of a ticket.

It does bring up an interesting point:  I recall going to traffic school many years ago (I was cited for speeding…I was going five miles over the speed limit in a 30 mile per hour speed zone) and the police officer giving us the lecture asked something to the effect of: “How many of you have received your first traffic ticket?”

Along with my hand rising were several others.  One middle aged/elderly woman (she may have been in her late 50’s or early 60’s) not only raised her hand but noted with great indignity that in all her years of driving this was her first ticket.

“Why did you get the ticket?” the officer asked.

“They said I didn’t come to a full stop at a stop sign.”

The police officer shook his head and said the following:  “I don’t feel any sympathy for you.  Every day every driver on every street commits on average at least five traffic offenses.  You’ve been lucky that in all these years, this is the first time an officer caught you doing something illegal on the road.”

The statement, frankly, made my head spin.  Now, I can’t speak to the veracity (or lack there of) of the police officer’s statistics.  For all I know, he may well have made them up for effect or heard someone else say them and believed them to be true.  The opposite, of course, might be true as well:  Maybe we do break the traffic laws many times each day, maybe even more than five times.

Also, and to be fair to the officer, the quote presented above isn’t absolute verbatum.  Its been many years since I received that ticket and participated in the class and I don’t pretend to recall every single word the officer uttered.  Well, with the exception of that first line.  Yes, the man did say he felt no sympathy for the woman and her ticket.  And yes, he went on to quote that five time a day lawbreaking statistic and did pronounced her lucky for having only received one ticket in all these years.

But to my mind, the most important thing I came away with regarding his statement was questioning traffic laws in general.  If we are to assume those statistics cited by the officer were accurate and if the traffic laws are such that on average a driver breaks at least five rules each day, then the laws, I think it could be argued, are way, waaaay too tough and/or arbitrary.

I suppose that traffic laws, in the end, simply fall into much broader gray areas than other laws.  After all, in the eyes of the law if it is proven you steal, you’re a thief.  If it is proven you killed someone in cold blood, you’re a murderer.

If you’re traveling at 100 miles per hour in 30 mile per hour speed zone, you’re clearly a menace.  However, if you’re going 35 miles per hour in that same 30 mile per hour speed zone, you’re just as guilty of breaking the law.  While you may not be a “menace” to others and the nature of your “crime” isn’t quite as serious, you’re still breaking the law.

It’s an imperfect system but it is tough to think of good alternatives to it.  Though the police officer’s remarks to the woman might have been brusque, he may well have been right.  And yes, while traffic laws may be impossible to follow 100% of the time each and every day, should we get rid of them because of this?  And if we do, then what?

In the end, I guess we can swallow our collective pride and pay the fee for getting “silly” traffic tickets now and again, provided when we do drive we know that others on the road recognize there are laws on how we should follow, and those laws not only protect ourselves, they protect others on the road.

At least that way we don’t feel like anything goes.