Secret laws suck
I got a speeding ticket Saturday, driving down I5, heading to Fresno.
Motoring smoothly at 83 MPH, fast lane, cruise control set, I saw the CHP cruiser on the other side of the freeway hit his lights and power into a U-turn across the median. Knowing I was cooked, I just pulled over and waited for the inevitable.
I’ve been up and down that road dozens of times, and every single one I get upset that the speed limit is a secret. Yes, I know that the signs say “70 mph”, but I also know that nobody ever, ever, ever got cited for going 72. Or 75. Or 77. Until Saturday, I would have said that the real, true, enforced speed limit was 85, and I still think thats’ generally true.
It infuriates me that nobody will admit what we all know–there is a speed limit somewhere, but it’s a secret and the police can change it anytime if they are behind on their “performance review standards” (because ticket writing quotas are illegal, but under another name……………)
If you tried to drive 70 in the fast lane the fuzz would cite you for driving too slowly. I’d love to take 2 cars, drive the speed limit next to each other and see how long it took to get pulled over and chewed out for blocking traffic.
Ask the cops what the limti is, and you’ll be told in their most serious and stentorian tones “The speed limit is 70 mies per hour, strictly enforced at all times”. That’s a damned lie, and if they had any self respect they would be ashamed of themseves. Sadly, self-respect is surgically removed at the police academy.
This is just a game. Speeding tickets are a random tax; drive long enough and you’ll have to pay. We are subject to a law that is enforced capriciously and idiosyncratically, as dependent on the cops moods as on our driving. I’ve driven as fast a 110 on that road without issue, and had people pass me while I was doing it. Interstate 5 was designed for a posted speed limit of 80, which means people would drive 90 regularly, but now the police and courts will self-righteously claim it is “unsafe” to exceed 70. Of course, the insurance companies love this as they raise the rates of the poor schlubs who get nabbed in the scam that is traffic enforcement.
And that leads me to the second part of the problem–the essential unfairness of our judicial system. I’m cranky about that ticket, but it doesn’t much matter. I’ll pay the fine, pay the fees to take traffic school, pay the school, take the course online and be done with it. If I was a guy who worked at Burger King, this would be a catastrophe–the fine could be a weeks pay, I might not own a computer or know how to take traffic school online and would be out a full day to take the live course. One speeding ticket could make the difference between paying the rent and being homeless, and that ‘s a high price to pay for an unpredictiable system that can strike without warning.
It doesn’t seem unreasonable to me that we could have realistic speed limits, like 80 or 85 on the interstates, clearly and strictly enforced. That would require realism from the politicians as well as honesty and openness from the police, though, so I suppose it’s just a pipe dream