Sunday, September 2, 2018

Breaking the law, faster

Who remembers Fuzzbusters? Or the Escort, or Passport (or Fox or Whistler or....) Radar Detectors?

I was born in 1960. So I got my driver's license right around the time that driving 55 mph was "the law of the land" and that was that.

Growing up, I was young and foolish. And I was spoiled. I had the "Smokey and the Bandit" Trans Am as a teenager, and in my early twenties, I had a two-seater Trans Am convertible. I had a "little red Corvette" convertible at 28. I did buy the Corvette myself (self-spoiling).

And so, I owned and used Radar Detectors. Lots of them. I won't even mention my CB radio, Good Buddy. I used to joke that I would get pulled over for speeding while I was still putting on my seat belt. I easily justified the purchase and use of Radar Detectors because I drove sports cars. It was my way of making it a fair fight. Red Corvette = pull me over, please.

Did I speed? Yeah. But nothing crazy. 65 or 70 in a 55 was usually my top end limit. Or doing 80 in a 65, maybe when cruising back and forth on Rt. 80 from New Jersey to PURDUE. But that was not really breaking the law, right? I rarely did 85, 90. And I NEVER, ever pushed it to....100 (on an open highway, with no traffic in sight for MILES). I think.

I've been pulled over at least 20 times in my life for speeding, and I only received two speeding tickets. Everything else was a warning. 18 wins, 2 losses. Not a bad track record.

But here is what I learned about myself. I no longer speed. I lost the need to speed. I no longer own a Radar Detector, and I have not owned a Radar Detector in years. Ever since my kids were born, I now drive in the middle lane, I set my cruise control, and I'm good. 70 in a 65 is my new normal. Driving 80 (or faster) is a distant memory.

Where is this going, Tom?

A younger version of myself used to PAY good money to break the law. I used to purchase and use DEVICES that allowed me to break the law, better. I went out of my way, to break the law. I decided that breaking the speed limit was indeed breaking the law - but - it was a special kind of law. Everyone else does it. Kinda like a "fake" law, not really something that needs to be taken seriously by everyone.

Drunk driving can kill you and innocent people. Texting while driving is just as bad. Speed limits are designed to make driving safer (for all of us). The posted speed limit is not some random number. Some engineer figured out that THIS road, under THESE conditions, can be safely negotiated at THIS posted speed. THIS speed, and no faster.

Speeding kills. Distracted driving kills. Google "How many Radar Detectors were sold last year" and the number is still in the millions.

Now Radar Detectors come with "crowd sourcing" built-in so they have the old "CB Radio" feature. "Hey Good Buddy, Kojak with a Kodak at mile marker 119".

If you are a millennial, go Google Kojak and CB Radio.

As more and more self-driving (autonomous) cars and trucks hit the roads, speeding tickets (and one day, parking tickets) will continue to decline. Maybe never to zero, but the tickets (and the revenue from the tickets) will dramatically go down. Be sure to look at "the math" below.

I used to mindfully, purposefully, willfully break the law. I would spend good money to break the law more efficiently. Today, not so much. Now at 58, give me a good podcast on the car stereo and you will find me in the middle lane, with the cruise control set to 69 in a 65.

OK, maybe I'll set the cruise control to 71. Or set to 72. 73, tops.

I mean after all, who drives 65 in a 65? 

Driving Citation Statistics (2017)
Average number of people per day that receive a speeding ticket - 112,000
Total annual number of people who receive speeding tickets - 41,000,000
Total percentage of drivers that will get a speeding ticket this year - 20.6 %
Average cost of a speeding ticket (including fees) - $152
Total paid in speeding tickets per year - $6,232,000,000
Average annual speeding ticket revenue per U.S. police officer - $300,000
Percent speeding tickets that get contested in traffic court - 5 %
Total number of licensed drivers in America today - 196,000,000

I can't drive 55

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