Trappic Stop

May 7, 2010 | | 2 comments

stop_signYou know what’s worse than getting a ticket for not coming to a complete stop at a stop sign… When there’s a cop sitting around the corner watching and waiting… like a TRAP. Where there’s no other traffic and no danger. Where the driver (that would be me) slowed down almost to a stop, but didn’t “officially” stop.  Where the intersection isn’t even an intersection at all, just a 90 degree turn.  You know what’s worse than that?  Plenty!  There’s a lot worse than that.  I’m thankful that this all I have to be irritated about… but it’s all I’ve got and I am irritated.

I feel irritated and bothered because I believe the time, energy and money expended on my interaction with this officer and the time and energy yet to be spent in dealing with the paperwork and whatever comes of it is a complete and utter waste.   Not to mention the actual cost of the ticket and the likelihood of my insurance rates going up.

I feel angry because I believe I was disrespected by the officer in a couple of ways:  His placement on that street looking for a violation of the letter of the law was a trap.  If I have violated a law, I am ok with dealing with the consequences of that.  Being trapped for making a mistake is not the same thing as being caught.  I do not treat people that way and I do not appreciate being treated that way.  It’s disrespectful.

The officer asked if I saw the stop sign.  I said I did not.  I was looking for an address and on the wrong street altogether and this stop sign was in a very odd place.  I didn’t see it… but I did come almost to a stop because I was about to turn around.  He said in a loud, mocking tone, “You didn’t see that big red stop sign!?”  What was I going to say, “Yes, officer.  I saw it, but I chose to ignore it”?  It was a disrespectful question in a disrespectful voice.  You put a trap where you know you will catch people… where they are going to trip up.  Clearly the sign is not communicating well if there are enough people missing it to suggest a trap.  If I was the only one who didn’t see it, it would have been a really dumb place to put a trap.  So why be insulting?

I don’t know whether the officer’s intentions were to be insulting or not.  It sure felt disrespectful.   Maybe he is just doing what he is told and he hates doing it.  I don’t know.  I’ll never know.

When I got home, I looked at the ticket.  I almost laughed out loud when I read the preamble notice (all CAPS as printed on the ticket)…

THE PRIMARY AIM OF TRAFFIC LAW ENFORCEMENT IS TO REDUCE TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS, INJURIES AND DEATHS THROUGH FAIR, IMPARTIAL, AND REASONABLE ENFORCEMENT OF TRAFFIC LAWS.

Somehow I don’t think anyone was in danger of injury or death from a traffic accident at any time in this intersection.  Nor do I believe this was a fair, impartial or reasonable enforcement of traffic laws.  It was a trap.  Nuff said!

Posted in: personal

2 Responses

  1. Yeah, I think this frequently as I role through stop signs. Traffic controls are for the purpose of informing people that there’s a potential issue coming up. But they can’t replace good judgment.

    The government (*) is always incredibly fond of itself. It thinks it’s laws infallible. On the one hand, it never trusts individuals to make good judgments on their own. But on the other hand, it never goes back and undoes all of the laws that have horribly terrible outcomes as a result of unintended consequences. When I encounter that kind of arrogance in an individual, I call him what he really is: a stupid jerk. But for some reason, when that same behavior is done by the government then it’s ok?

    If the government really wanted to improve traffic accidents they’d get rid of traffic signs entirely:

    http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/12.12/traffic.html

    Of course, that would put them out of the incredibly lucrative jobs they have, so it’ll never happen. The purpose of the strict enforcement is to maintain control. The preamble is propaganda, nothing less.

    (*) The police are just the part of the government with the guns.

  2. Of course, all of that said, you made the classic error when dealing with the police. You expected that you could reason with them.

    A friend of mine in college dated a cop. One of the things she taught me is that there is exactly one right answer to any question that a police officer asks. “Yes officer, you’re right.” So when the officer asked you, “Did you see that stop sign?” Your answer should have been, “Oh my gosh there it is? How could I have missed that?”

    Had he said, “Are you a bloomin’ idiot?” your answer should be: “I guess I must be” or “Now that I see that stop sign, yes, in fact I am.”

    Never, ever, ever say anything that questions the authority or moral correctness of the officer. That’s your only hope for getting away with just a warning. If you want to up the odds, pre-emptively figure out a way to tell him he’s right before he has to you.

    Police officers are people who empowered by the government to carry a gun, and to exercise judgment on when to use it. It goes to their heads. Let them know that you agree with them that they are superior human beings and it goes a long way towards getting a warning.

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