The other day I was driving and, out of nowhere, a Police Officer walked into the street and put up his hand and motioned for the car coming up behind mine and to my right to pull over.
A speed trap had caught another!
The car behind me wasn’t going all that much faster than me, but obviously fast enough to get the Police Officer’s attention, but for a couple of seconds I thought I was the one that was in trouble. It was a bewildering thing because I looked down to see I was going something like 31 or so MPH in a 30 MPH zone.
I knew I wasn’t going fast but when you see an Officer suddenly jump out of their hiding place (and they were hiding) and start waving down a car, you instantly think you’re the one being “caught”.
I hope what follows is new and I haven’t written about it before, but in case I haven’t…
I’ve been driving since I was in High School. The first car I drove, a 1981 Mustang, was a (I thought at the time) great car to drive. It was relatively small and the 4 cylinder motor ensured I didn’t do anything too crazy while driving. I first started driving that car in either very late 1981 or 1982 and since that time I’ve driven a myriad of cars.
What I didn’t get, until at least the late 1990’s, was a ticket. For anything.
In fact, the very first ticket I got was for traveling 35 MPH in a 30 MPH zone.
Don’t take my word for it, that’s what the ticket said!
I was driving my father’s Stealth and I strongly suspect I got stopped not so much because I was going fast but rather because I was driving a car that “looked” fast. I say this because after I was stopped and while waiting to get the ticket, the other lovely Police Officers who stopped me kept trying to snag other drivers and their speed gun clocked many other people going through the area I was snagged in at 40 MPH plus… and they didn’t bother stopping them.
Anyway, after getting the ticket I went to Traffic School, a four hour or so lecture on all things traffic to get the “points” off my ticket.
It was a bore.
But one thing that really got my blood boiling, apart from the fact that my ticket was complete (pardon my French) bullshit, was when the Police Officer giving us that interminable lecture asked the people in the very full conference room we were in “For how many of you is this your first ticket?”
Some lady (if memory serves) in the audience not only raised her hand but said with considerable venom something to the effect of “I’ve been driving for twenty years and this is the first ticket I’ve gotten!”
The Police Officer, it was obvious, had gone down this road before and he shot back something to the effect of “This is your first ticket? Then you’re extremely lucky you haven’t gotten a ticket until now because each day drivers on average commit at least a dozen traffic infractions each day.”
He went on to describe such infractions: Not coming to a “full” stop before a Stop sign. Going a few miles over the speed limit (as I was). Switching lanes where you shouldn’t. Etc. etc.
He was trying to show us idiots that we were indeed law breaking idiots and deserved to be here.
To me the answer showed, rather than Police Officers are so smart and we are all such idiots for questioning rules, that if the rules are broken so consistently and so often, then the rules are bad.
Rules should, IMHO, have a logic to them. If we are breaking them on average some dozen times or so each day, then perhaps, maybe, could be… the laws are stupid.
Perhaps with traffic there shouldn’t be an absolute unit of measurement. Perhaps when the speed limit is given, it should be a range rather than an absolute.
For me, getting a ticket for going 35 MPH in a 30 MPH speed limit is indeed ticketable. However, let’s face facts: Going a whopping 5 MPH over the speed limit in this instance (no School Zone, by the way) is silly at best.
Yet I did break the law. I should get a ticket for going 31 MPH in a 30 MPH zone, much less going 35 MPH.
But let’s face facts: If I were going 40 MPH or 50 MPH in a 30 MPH zone it would make more “sense” that I deserve that ticket, no? Not only more sense, instead of eliciting sympathy, my complaining about the ticket would instead elicit scoffing from others.
But is a range of speeds a solution?
I mean, I don’t want people flying through my neighborhood (30 MPH speed limit) at 70 MPH. Yet if an officer stopped someone going at 35 or so MPH I’d feel they were wasting that person’s time and castigating them for something incredibly minor.
If speed ranges aren’t the solution, what is?
Its a question that certainly deserves thought.