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Safety, Speeding, and Selective Enforcement

As a well seasoned veteran patrol officer, I will commit the ultimate heresy and plainly state that I did not hunt to bag speeders. In fact, I wish that we had more people on the roads that understood the concept of driving at speeds appropriate for conditions.

Let me digress a little.

We were on patrol, at about 10 miles per hour above the posted limit (recommended patrol car procedure, so we don’t create a rolling roadblock keeping people behind us.) Suddenly, out of the corner of our eyes, comes a vehicle moving along at a speed far greater, probably about 15 to 20 miles an hour above the limit. I am in one of the sneaky pete interceptors (unmarked patrol vehicle); the “speeder” was obviously alert, head moving constantly surveying conditions, both hands on the wheel, good posture, and not playing bumper tag nor weaving between lanes, operating at assured clear distances by use of the accelerator pedal rather than the brake pedal, and his vehicle appears in good shape with decent tires... well, that one did not get officially noticed. It is my discretion. We can’t get all the speeders, so we pick out those that are available.

Such a driver, even though they are speeding, is more of an experienced and courteous operator than many. If this individual were weaving, bobbing, braking, and bumper tagging, they would get a fast visit with me, especially the bumper tagger. Talk about road rage? Nothing made me angrier than some knot-head riding on someone else’s bumper, and I don’t care what speed it is occurring at. Anyone that rides on someone else’s bumper should be tied to a rear bumper for a week with a sign on their neck saying "I AM A BUMPER KISSER! COME GET YOURS."

If we trained the drivers in this country to dynamics of vehicle operation rather than sloganeering things like "speed kills" (which it doesn’t, otherwise we wouldn’t have any airplanes in this world) we would have a real start on making things better on the roadways. That also means that they understand that the right lane is for traveling at or near the posted limit, and that the left lane is for those that desire, and can handle operation at a faster speed, as long as they are not interrupting the normal ebb and flow of traffic.

You can spot efficient operators when they move along in traffic changing with the flow by judicious use of their accelerator pedals and not heaving, jerking in and out by slapping the brakes, and dodging rear bumpers at the last second prior to collision status.


Let me make myself clear. Speed in and of itself does not kill! Knowing vehicle dynamics, handling characteristics, and operation within reasonable limits for the condtions present, are an equation that should set up for a higher rate of vehicle speed, safely above the posted limit. This takes into account the "left lane bandits" (50 in a 70 zone) cell phone talkers, coffee drinkers, newspaper readers, mascarea dabbers, yakty-yakkers, rolling child gymnasiums, poorly tuned vehicles, and assorted others waiting to be the leading causes of collisions. Do I drive fast and close when I see Ms. Mascarea Dabber within range? No, I do not. Thirty some years of high speed vehicle operation without a chargable accident is my testament.

Part of being alert is the ability to spot the problem BEFORE you get to the situation. I always made it a habit to NEVER DRIVE INTO A SITUATION THAT I COULD NOT DRIVE OUT OF. When in doubt, don’t. It still works for me. I am not lucky, I am well trained. I also know my limitations.

When I drive fast, it is when I am alert, the vehicle serviced, with above adequete equipment, no radio, no drinks nearby, seat belt on, and 100% concentration on the road, in front, and in back of me. Otherwise, I crab along right among the rest, only I am able to spot you before you spot me, and I have avoided you before you have even realized someone was there. That is driving for conditions, no matter what the rate of covering the ground may be.

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