The cruise control was set at 80. This is works well for most of Highway 5. On occasions I have to slow down on the two lane highway if a car passing another is not going my speed. Otherwise the slower cars are courteous enough to stay to the right to allow me to pass. Most of highway 5 is barren with the occasional small town. Now, however I had entered into the more densely populated area of Redding. I was traveling from San Francisco to near Yreka when my Aunt lived. Not only had the speed limit reduced from 70 to 65, but there were a lot more vehicles on the road. Two lanes became three. My 80 MPH speed seemed a little faster, but I kept it up anyway.
Then I saw it in my rear view mirror. Still about a quarter of a mile away, the familiar look of a vehicle with a rack of lights on top. Busted? I don’t know. The lights were not flashing but he was gaining on me. I reduce my speed and pulled into the next lane. He follow, but behind another car in back of me. He was still quite a ways away. I pulled into the far right lane and reduced to the speed limit. My strategy was to make it to the next exit and hope he does not follow. No such luck. On came the lights as he approach quickly and over to the shoulder I went.
I get speeding tickets once ever four or five years. There is usually enough time in between tickets that I can always go to traffic school and keep them off my record. While traffic school does take up a whole day of my time, I have rather enjoyed it the past three times that I’ve attended. I enjoy hearing the stories from the instructor and I usually walk away having learned some interesting and valuable information. Here is what I learned one time:
In this case the traffic school was taught by a retired police officer. For some reason he seemed intent in helping us to learn how to avoid future speeding tickets, not by driving more carefully, but by having the officer issue a warning rather than a ticket. He told us that it is nerve racking for an officer to approach a car with unknown people inside. If we do certain things to reduce his/her anxiety, that will increase the chance that we are just issued a warning. These things include keeping our hands in clear sight (he recommended on the steering wheel) and having our license and registration out so we will not need to reach into a concealed space to get it. Let’s see if it worked …
There I was on the side of the road I pulled over as far to the right as I could to give him plenty of space on the shoulder. As soon as I reached a complete stop I opened the glove compartment, took out the registration and put it on the dashboard. The officer was already approaching the car on the passenger side so pulling out the registration was all I could do. My license was still in my pocket and the window was still up. I reached to my left for the window control and with my left hand pushed the button to roll down the passenger side window. My right hand remained on the wheel.
“How are you doing?” The officer asked. He was a friendly younger man, about 25. “Good, you?” I replied. “I’m doing good, look, I pulled you over for speeding. I clocked you around 80.” He was very direct. Another thing I learned was to not argue or make up excuses. I knew I was speeding. “Yep,” I said. “May I see your license, registration and stuff?” I took the registration off my dashboard and handed it to him. I had to reach in my pocket for the license. It was loose in my pocket with some cash and a few other cards. I have not been using a wallet. I shuffled through the stack of cards and cash in my hand until I found the correct card and handed it to him. I went to place the stack of cards on the passenger seat, but there was a $50 bill in the stack. I though it might be construed as a bride so I thought twice and put it in the pocket in the door on the drivers side. “What do you have for insurance?” He asked. Oops, I’d left the insurance in the glove compartment. I wasn’t even sure it was there. I paused for a second and then slowly reached for and opened the glove compartment door. There under the vehicle instruction manual was a piece of paper. I lifted the manual. That was it. I picked it up and handed it to him. I get rather nervous easily so my hands were shaking a little. I’m sure he could see. He asked me a few questions, where was I going, why, where was I coming from … nothing too intrusive. Then he said, “Well,” in the millisecond pause before his next word I realized that he could have followed that with anything. Will I get a ticket? I was not sure, “do you think you can slow down?” he continued. He was going to let me go. Enthusiastically I said, yes. He handed me back my papers, wished me a good day and departed. The whole incident took about 3 minutes of my time and I was off on the road again.
I continued my journey with the cruise control set at the speed limit. It is actually rather easy to keep the speed limit with cruise control. There were times when I wanted to go faster, but I was more interested in honoring my commitment with the police officer that was kind enough to issue me a warning rather than a ticket. I kept the speed limit for the rest of my journey and for the entire drive home a few days later.
I do not know if my actions to keep him more comfortable were the reason he let me go. It couldn’t have hurt.