“Do you know how fast you were going?”

Why do all traffic cops ask this question? Does my answer matter AT ALL?

Anyone familiar with my driving history knows I’ve had my fair share of run-ins with traffic cops. Over the last twelve years of driving I’ve amassed a pretty good record. If I recall correctly, I’ve been cited eleven or twelve times and that record goes something like this:

  • at least four speeding tickets
  • one ticket for “unsafe turning movement”
  • one illegal right turn
  • one ticket for running a red light (on accident)
  • one low speed collision
  • three or four others that I’ve forgotten

This doesn’t include the numerous other instances I’ve been pulled over and received a warning. That list would include five other times I was speeding, once when I didn’t signal a lane change and ultimately was given a field sobriety test on the highway just to be sure, a time when I rolled three stop signs in a row in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night and once where I almost had the off-duty officer (in a Hawaiian shirt nonetheless) draw his weapon ’cause I had an itch I scratched without telling him ahead of time.

I’ve gone to traffic school three times in person and four times online (which I “hacked” and skipped right to the end). I’ve had to plead guilty in front of a judge… twice. It’s cost me a little over $1,500 or so over the last twelve years, but I’ve never had a point on my license. I’ll repeat that. Not once has the state had any dirt on me and my insurance rate hasn’t gone up… well, maybe after the low-speed accident, but that was negligible. Well, it’s time to add another speeding ticket to the list… this one actually impacting me somewhat significantly. Here’s the story.

I work the 5pm to 3am shift right now. When I leave work the road tends to be completely empty. And I mean EMPTY. It’s a typical perimeter road running around an airfield. Just empty. The speed limit on this road is twenty miles per hour. 20. That’s lower than the speed limit in unmarked residential neighborhoods back in the States. It’s painstakingly slow… almost uncomfortably slow. So I regularly go 30+ mph.

Well, that is until tonight. I was cruising comfortably back to my dormitory with my sensor operator in the right seat. We had the radio on and chatting about the night’s events. As I was cruising past the approach end of runway 30L, I saw a pair of red/blue flashers come on in the darkness a hundred feet off the side of the road.

I asked Chris, the Arkansas-born Airman next to me “Do you think that’s for us?”

And with that question I got a few blips of the siren and the two SUVs started moving.

“Yep, that’s for us. Haha.”

Long story short, I got nailed doing 37 in a 20 mph zone. My on-base driving privileges have been suspended until June 10th, two weeks following my return to the States. Lucky me that I have my other crew member with me at all times. So I guess I’ve just made it it such that I get to be chauffeured everywhere I go. Sweet. All joking aside, this is not a huge deal, but it may prove to be a significant inconvenience. And that is why I take issue with inflexible speed limits from time to time.

It boils down to this: who is to determine what is or isn’t safe? 40 mph on a deserted road at 3am was perfectly safe by my standards. If there are other vehicles on the road, I tend to slow down. If there are people, I slow down even more. Speed limits should be relative to the environment on the road. Icy weather? Slow down. Bad visibility? Slow down. No one around and nothing to obstruct your view? Speed up. It’s ridiculous to follow rules for the sake of following rules. Yet the soldier manning his RADAR gun and enforcing a ridiculous speed limit has potentially impacted Predator operations (and certainly my convenience) due to his judgment of what is or isn’t safe. This philosophy of mine extends to most aspects of my life… Rules are generally created for the lowest common denominator, the imbecile who really would do 75 in a residential zone. You know the type… the ones who made necessary the “Do not eat this packet” warnings on the silica packets that come with new pairs of shoes. I’m smarter than that and I’m smart enough to self-determine when I’m driving safely or not.

I understand the sentiment behind the chosen speed limit. Undoubtedly it was established by a General somewhere who set the limit for the entire theater of operations. How terrible would it be to get hit while you’re in a combat zone? Everyone here just wants to get home safe and sound. It would be absolutely tragic to lose your life or a limb from something such as a traffic accident and not from enemy action. So yes, I get the point. However, my argument remains the same… limits should be adjustable based on actual roadway conditions.

And my train of thought has fizzled out. I guess this is what happens when you just rant on your own website. Haha. I really need to start working on how to write a convincing and eloquent essay…

TL;DR: I was cited for speeding on base because some speed limits are made for idiots.

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