Over the last three years, I have been cited for speeding more than the previous quarter of a century since I have been driving as an adult!  I am not certain what has caused this increase in apprehension, for I am neither alleging that I am a speeder, nor admitting my success at rarely being caught.  The last two years have been the worst, and I have seriously considered that my right foot has turned to lead or my sore right knee has finally locked, as the doctor predicted it would nearly ten years ago.  I have even contemplated I have acquired some sort of attention deficit recently or am entering the first stages of undiagnosed dementia or senility.

I have felt that certain tickets for disobeying traffic laws are utterly ridiculous.  Stopping for three seconds at an intersection when there is a four-way stop and clearly no traffic is clearly one example.  Unless there is something radically wrong with a person’s eyesight or hearing, ticketing a driver is ridiculous under these conditions and rather petty.  Likewise, when most cars are speeding on an interstate freeway and traffic is running smoothly, singling out a driver and ticketing that individual for speeding is surely wrong.

On one occasion, I was driving ten miles over the speed limit along with three or four other cars.  As I approached my exit, of course, I slowed considerably and eventually was moving near single digits as I reached the line of cars towards the end of the ramp awaiting a traffic signal to turn from red to green.  When the light changed and it came my turn to move, I turned left at the corner onto the overpass, where I was stopped by a state police officer.  After asking me for my license and registration and telling me I was speeding, I asked him why he chose to stop me when I was simply driving along with three-to-four other cars whose drivers were also exceeding the speed limit.  His answer was that I decided to get off the freeway.

I was appalled.  I was now driving most recently at 10 mph, while the vehicles going ten miles above the speed limit were allowed to continue speeding!  It did not make any sense to me, for I was no longer speeding.  The state trooper agreed with me, but indicated my easy accessibility, despite my currently snaillike pace, mandated I be cited.

In addition, I mentioned that I was only speeding on that freeway for about five minutes, and prior to that time, approximately another five minutes, I was probably going less than the maximal speed limit.  During the ten miles between my home and the interstate, I never exceeded the posted speed limit.  So, I asked him what constituted my getting a ticket for speeding.  He told me that some aerial radar had clocked me going ten miles over the speed limit during a moment in time, despite the fact that others matched or exceeded my speed, for I was not ahead of the bunch.  Needless to say, I was curious as to why I was singled out and why I was ticketed after I had significantly slowed and was awaiting a traffic light to change along with other drivers in their resting vehicles.  I told the officer that I could understand it if I was apprehended while speeding, but I was being cited when I was no longer speeding while the other speeders accompanying me were still speeding the last I had looked!

It seems to me that speed limits are designed to promote safety among the concourse of vehicles.  They are not primarily instituted as a source of revenue for the locality or state.  There was no reason to ticket me in the above example, for I was not endangering anyone and I had stopped speeding anyway—and my speeding had only lasted five minutes of the twenty-five-to-thirty minutes I had been driving that day.  I was topped because of convenience, and not because public safety was jeopardized.  There was no lesson instructing the public regarding the “folly” of my five minutes of exceeding the speed limit.  The ticket did not deter me or anybody else from speeding for a brief period of time with the flow of traffic.

Moreover, I am a teetotaler and I don’t do drugs.  I was wide awake, having already been up for a couple hours and was not at all groggy or drowsy.  I was alert and hardly distracted by the enjoyable tomfoolery of the syndicated broadcast on my local public radio station.  Yes, my cell phone was with me, but merely lying dormant on the passenger seat.  I was going to a restaurant to eat before my visit to the cinema to watch a just-out movie.  The only thing my stoppage by the state trooper did was compel me to skip the meal and go directly to the theater, as now I was running late!

Although I am oft labeled a civil libertarian, I am far from an anarchist.  I believe in certain controls as necessary by government and law enforcement.  However, I am opposed to arbitrariness, and attendance to the letter of the law, while the spirit of the law is damned.  I would not go so far as to say citing me that day was immoral; but I will insist that it was entirely unnecessary and purposeless, for no one was ever in danger and public safety was never imperiled by my innocuous, momentary speeding on a short stretch of moderately trafficked highway during a splendid Saturday morn.

About mdbwell

Pres., Project for the Beloved Community, Inc.; B.A.--Wesleyan University; M.Div.--Yale University; Ph.D.--Boston University; Summer Study--Harvard University; Social ethicist; Ordained minister; Advocate for the poor
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