So. Got stopped for not speeding the other night. I’ll repeat that cause it really does kind of deserve repeating. Stopped for NOT speeding.
There is a 6 mile road that runs between the main highway and my little town that alternates between farmland and woods – not a house or business in sight until you get into the town limits. Did I mention there are no lights on this road? Now I don’t know how familiar you folks are with driving on country roads with no street lights, but at night time, they get dark. And I mean dark. As in pitch black. Some people opt to drive like a bat out of hell on this particular road because well, either they’re idiots or they figure it’s an easy way to cut the time off their oh so important commute to somewhere they likely don’t want to be in the first place.
Me? At night I tend to go a little slower than the normal speed so that I don’t run over and kill (or worse, hit and not kill) the animals that so often come out in the night-time, like the foxes, deer (which are a big concern over here), opossums, raccoons, and even cats that I’ve routinely seen cross the road as I’ve been driving down it…and whose corpses I’ve seen litter the shoulder of this very road, victims of drivers who may not have been as conscientious.
I interject at this point that the speed limit (limit as in “do not exceed,” not minimum as in “must meet”) on this road is 55 mph. I was going 50 mph. I know this because I had my car set on cruise control, a nifty little invention that allows people to fully concentrate on the road without fear of varying their speed.
So while driving down this road, there was one car following me with his brights on the whole time, you know those drivers, the umm…annoying ones. And even though he could’ve passed me, he didn’t. No. Of course not. Instead he chose to stay behind me and tailgate with his brights shining ever so dazzlingly in my rear-view mirror creating a lovely driving hazard all the way down this 6 mile road – of which we were the only occupants. So you can see that my cutting a whole 5 mph off the normal speed limit in an effort to drive safely was really putting a hamper on the heavy traffic flow.
Now, when you hit the town limits, the speed limit shifts suddenly to 35 mph, no warning…but of course I know this because I’ve lived here off and on forever. So I touched my brakes and lowered my speed accordingly…and that’s when the blue and red lights on the tailgater’s roof went off and he pulled me over.
When the officer approached my car, he said the obligatory “Ma’am, do you know why I pulled you over?” And I said back as politely as I could, “Well, no, no I really don’t.” And for the first time in my life, I was advised that I was being pulled over for NOT speeding. What he explained was this: “You were going kind of slow back there for a while, and I’ve found there are only two reasons for this: either you’ve been drinking or have a hard time seeing at night. And I can tell you haven’t been drinking.”
When I explained that there was a third reason: not wanting to run over and kill the animals that routinely cross that road at night, he laughed and said he hadn’t thought of that but, “Yep, that’s a good reason and you’ve given me another one to think about.”
And here’s where it gets interesting folks, because this officer who claims to live in the country, and who as circumstance has it, just drove down the same road I did, had no idea that animals wander into the road at night…and apparently didn’t see the no less than four dead bodies strewn across the stretch of asphalt we had just passed over.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m glad I didn’t get a ticket and further, I appreciate the difficult job police officers have (and the danger they put themselves into just by pulling people over). I didn’t appreciate his initial sarcasm, but hey, the officer understood my reasoning and seemed to seriously take it under consideration for future use when approaching people – so that’s a very good thing.
But what bothers me (and I realize this is small beans in the big scope of police issues), is how fast is that cop used to going on that road that he thinks 50 mph is slow? And why is not speeding on a lonely, pitch black road a bad thing or a reason to pull someone over?