Waste of Time

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?

22 thoughts on “Waste of Time

  1. I was very sad the one with high beams on, was a police officer. This reminded me of a similar experience. I drive to work 4 days a week about ten miles. On Fridays, we go in at 6:00 am. I go slow through college campus, exactly 25 miles per hour and then, my first turn comes which is a 3-way stop. If you were to turn left, it would be into McDonald’s. So, I come to this, stop, hit my brake, wait about 4 seconds and turn right on a light that any time of day allows turning right on red. No restrictions since no school nor busy times. At this hour, only one car on road is behind me.
    About 1/2 mile down ftom the intersection the one following me (5:40 am) the cop puts his lights on. When he pulled me over, I asked him why? Right away. Then I said I was on way to work. I gave him license, proof of insurance and my registration. The officer told me I had “not waited long enough” which he then answered my, “How long?” with his, “10 seconds.”
    I called a friend whose nephew is a policeman in another town. He didn’t think that there is any counting required and asked, “Did I get a ticket?” No, but I had to call my boss, took long enough to run my plates to make me late. Just showing you some “misery loves company,” friend.
    Heather had a great question, which I echoed! 🙂

    • I’ve never heard of a specific time to remain stopped either — just so long as it’s a full stop at red before turning (when it’s allowed). I mean really, your counting to ten might be different than MY counting to ten, so there is no way to enforce something like that. Glad you didn’t get a ticket! I think you didn’t get one for the same reason I didn’t…the officers knew they had no rightful reason for stopping us in the first place.

  2. I used to live and drive in the country side so I get you 100%. Even the roads I knew, driving them coming back at 1-2am (hotel receptionist) I didn’t drive as fast as in daytime. Speaking from experience with a few hairy bends, perception’s different at night! And then there were animals!

    • Exactly. It’s completely different at night with no street lights…it’s so utterly dark. As I mentioned, deer are a real issue here because of the rural setting (not to mention the other animals who deserve to continue living). But there are a lot of other reasons not to be flying down a road like that at night as well.

    • Like I said, he was friendly enough after I explained my reasoning for going slightly under the limit and I hope he remembers it in the future when dealing with other people as he said he would. Although in an area populated by deer, why wouldn’t he think of that??

  3. My friend I hear you completely I drive on a lot of 2 lane roads through out the state where I live and while I am not a slow poke I do keep an eye out for deer big here as well and dashing Foxes that appear out of no where as well as raccoons and opposums …so my question is was the cop following you with his brights on the whole time?

    • I can’t say for sure he had his brights on the whole time, but it sure seemed like it although that might’ve been because he was so close to me the whole time. Close enough that I couldn’t tell he was a cop (his lights kept me from being able to see the outline of the top of his car). And as I said, I’m glad I didn’t get a ticket (though seriously, what for?) and I’m even more glad that the officer listened to me instead of blowing me off when I tried to speak to him about my reasoning, but the episode just made so little sense to me that I still shake my head over it.

  4. I like how assuming the cop was about why you were going “so slow”.
    Is it just a thing with authority figures to automatically stereotype people, even when they know nothing about that other person?

  5. I don’t understand how you could be pulled over if you were violating any rules of the road. You weren’t swerving, you weren’t speeding, you weren’t driving dangerously. There’s no probable cause for the officer to pull you over.

    What the officer is suggesting is that the police can pull over anyone they want at any time by making up any hare-brained reason. And I, too, have a good deal of respect for law enforcement and the job they do. But pulling over people who are obeying the rules isn’t the way to earn your profession respect.

    • See what I think happened is this, where he pulled me over is right where the speed limit changes down to 35 mph. A lot of people are caught there not getting down to 35 mph quick enough. I think he jumped the gun putting on his lights to stop me, figuring I’d be one of those people, but as it turns out, I adjusted my speed properly (as I usually do). I could be wrong, but that’s what I think.

  6. California’s “basic speed limit” is “a speed safe for circumstances.” This is used to get people for driving at too fast at 20 in a heavy fog in a 65 mph zone, but also to get people who are doing 65 in a 65 zone if they’re “blocking” the fast lane in open traffic, particularly on a two-lane Interstate (ie, I-5 between LA & SF).

    I don’t know where wildlife fits in that scheme – I grew up in Vermont and know how a deer can ruin your day. It sounds like you had a lot more common sense than the cop.

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