By Jordan W. Charness
“I really did not deserve this ticket! At least, I don’t think I did.”
Peter was looking somewhat glum and a little shame-faced about having received his latest speeding ticket. He had been trying very hard to avoid any type of moving violation and had not been cited for one in over a year.
While not receiving a traffic violation for over a year is no big deal for most people, Peter had gotten more than his share of traffic tickets and had been doing everything he could to turn over a new leaf. In particular, he had been very careful to observe the speed limit, making sure not to drive more than 10 per cent over the limit. That way, he figured he could get home 10 per cent faster without risking getting a ticket.
While it is true that the police will often tolerate a slight increase in speed, it’s not because they are willing to let you drive 10 per cent over the speed limit. Police may allow for slight variations in foot pressure on the gas pedal and speedometer readings that may be in error. Basically, they are giving drivers the benefit of the doubt in assuming that you had no intention or even knowledge that you were speeding. However, there is no magic 10 per cent formula, as some people believe. In fact, when police are conducting an “operation” in areas that are known for speeding, they may indeed pull people over for driving just a few kilometres over the speed limit.
This was not what had set Peter off this time. He always took the same route home from work: a combination of city streets and local highways. He knew that the local highway had a 70 km/h speed limit in some sections, which increased to 100 km/h during the latter part of his drive home. He was always sure to drive around 70 in the 70 km/h zone and around 100 in the 100 zone.
To his great surprise while driving in the 70 km/h hour zone he heard a police siren and looked in his rearview mirror to see a police cruiser with lights flashing. The police officer was pointing at him and then at the side of the road.
He quickly looked at his speedometer and noticed that he was only going 75 km/h. He couldn’t believe that he was being pulled over for speeding just eight per cent over the speed limit!
The police officer who pulled him over told him that he had been driving 25 km/h over the speed limit. Peter protested — he knew for a fact that that section of the highway had a posted limit of 70 km/h. He was both right, and wrong.
What Peter had failed to notice was that there was some light construction being done on the shoulder of the roadway, and because of that there were signs that had reduced the speed limit from 70 to 50 km/h. The police wanted to make sure that people would slow down by mounting an operation in the area. They even had tickets prepared in advance showing pictures of the road and noting that they had put up a 50 km/h sign both one kilometre and one-half kilometre before the construction began. In fact, the last 70 km/h sign was more than five kilometres away from where Peter had been stopped.
Since Peter always drove the same route home he assumed that the speed limit would always remain the same and failed to notice the new speed limits. You might also wonder what else he might have missed on the road home. Just because he took the same route every day did not mean that it was always the same.