Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Ventura Highway in the Sunshine

Well, there's three hours I'll never see again. CA has a very different structure for handling traffic complaints from MA. First, you can do "traffic school" to get points off for violations. Second, you have to put money up front to get a trial. Third, everything car related (except insurance) just costs a lot more.

I drive fast. I get bored and my mind wanders if I don't, plus, if I can get somewhere in a half hour, why take 45 minutes? But I do this when I'm alert. I maintain good situational awareness of what's ahead and who is coming from behind. I try to position my car so that other people can pass me or merge. I don't drive in truck blind spots if I can help it. I keep options open for evasive maneuvers. I really good at knowing the most likely car to cut me off and how much time I'll likely have to cope with it. I like to think I'm a good driver, in other words.

I haven't had an at fault accident since the week after I got my license 20 years an 11 months ago and had the most embarrassing accident ever. (Only other accidents: I spun out at the bottom of a very steep hill in an ice storm and just stopped clear of everything with no one behind me; I was rear ended once while sitting at a light, the people behind me just misjudged the distance; and there was that weirdness recently with Janet McQueen backing into me in a parking lot while I honked furiously to get her attention and failed.) Yes, speed can exacerbate the damage of an accident but, within certain limits, speed doesn't cause accidents. (Variance in speed is a bigger issue than absolute speed in predicting accidents - setting speed limits too far below the design speed leads to more accidents for this reason.) So I nearly always keep my speed below a reasonable threshold.

I haven't had a ticket in something like 14 years. Until this year. My theory is that the economy pushed the ticketing threshold lower. Plus, the circumstances of that first ticket were such that I thought I was going to be run off the road, so I sped up to get out of the way of the crazy guy- who happened to be the cop running without lights. But hey, why bother fighting it when there's traffic school? I thought I had a decade or so before another ticket came along.

Anyhow, I was going a bit fast, but not too fast and not nearly as fast as the officer claimed - based on pacing me for 15 seconds from so far back as to be laughable. Even for the speed the ticket is at, I got mocked at the office for getting a ticket at "the standard cruising speed". So I'm challenging the ticket. It's pretty much my word against hers, so I'll probably have to pay it but that was not a reasonable ticket. My primary strategy is to hope my officer doesn't show up, which results in a ticket dismissal. Considering that 70% of the people in my courtroom who were there for a trial had theirs dismissed, I'm holding out hope. Especially now that I have my court date.

Yep. Yours truly will be in traffic court the Friday afternoon of 9/11. What do you think? Will my ticketing officer be participating in a remembrance ceremony, or feeling all self righteous and determined to show up and make the case?

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