This is for another Jim, just as perturbed as I am:
I’m one of those law-abiding Goody Two-shoes whom speed demons cuss on the freeway.
I’m the guy at the head of a long line of traffic crawling through a 45-mph highway construction site.
My driving habits should make me one of the good guys, but it seems I’m just the opposite. I’m the guy holding up traffic. I’m the guy making other motorists late to work, school or supper.
I’m one of those guys and gals trying our best to follow the rules of the road. I can’t help myself. I was raised to believe rules are written for good reasons. I don’t need them explained. I just need to follow them. Maybe that’s why I got along so well in the military.
It’s not just traffic rules I obey. I’ve never kept fish out of season, shot a deer illegally or taken more than my limit of squirrels. I don’t even dig worms on conservation lands when the signs say, “No digging.”
Friends and family ridicule me, make me feel foolish for being such a stickler for rules. I explain I haven’t always been so particular; I drove way too fast as a teenager. Heck, I even intentionally break the posted speed limit today by as much as 3 mph.
They just laugh at me, assuring me I won’t be stopped unless I’m going at least 10 mph over the limit. Patrol officers have faster fish to chase.
Maybe that’s true, I argue, but anything over the posted limit is still speeding, and I don’t want to give the officers the option to stop me or let me go. I don’t know what kind of day they might have had. Besides, 5 or 10 mph seldom make me late to anywhere. I’m just not in that much of a hurry, and experience tells me I’ll likely catch up with the eager speeders within minutes of getting into town.
Reluctantly, I will nudge my pickup truck a hair over the speed limit if it seems the safest and most prudent way to proceed. But I don’t like to. Interstate 44 and Schoolcraft Freeway around Springfield are examples of a 60-mph limit almost universally ignored. I’d say most folks drive 65-70 mph, and a good many go a lot faster. Though I sometimes see someone pulled over, getting a speeding ticket appears of little concern to most.
Regularly driving these routes leads me to wonder, “How fast is too fast?” Most of my family tells me 5 mph over is “the real speed limit.” Stupid me. I thought it was the number on the sign that says, “Speed Limit.”
Maybe it should just say, “Suggested Speed.”
I’m of the opinion it really doesn’t matter what the sign says. We tend to interpret the posted limit as the minimum required, rather than the maximum allowed. I’m a little guilty — nervous about driving below the top limit (I recall from my driver’s test many years ago a minimum of 45 mph on major highways).
Whatever the limit, I’ll drive it — though I confess cruise control is as useful for keeping me at 60 mph as it is to prevent me from exceeding the limit. It’s not fear of fast driving that holds me back; it’s fear of speeding tickets.
I got a speeding ticket in August 1978. The speed limit on U.S. 65 was still 55 mph. It was a clear day, an open highway and a downhill grade. I was going 67 mph when I met a trooper in my brand-new, whisper-quiet Buick. Ever since then I’ve bought cars with cruise control.
I don’t mind supporting the school system, but I’d rather not do so through traffic court. So, as long as I am opposed to paying traffic tickets, I reckon many of you will cuss me or give me hand signals as you fly by me on the highway. That’s OK; just don’t cross the yellow center lines, lest you learn why they’re put there.
See you at the first stoplight.
Copyright James E. Hamilton 2018. Jim Hamilton is a freelance writer in Buffalo. Contact him at email@example.com.