May 25, 2012
by Jordan W. Charness
“It’s all about motors,” was the way Peter started off our most recent conversation. I truly have no idea where he was going with this but as usual I knew that if I waited long enough I would probably end up with some kind of good story to share with my readers. As usual I wasn’t disappointed.
“Ever since they invented the horseless carriage over a hundred years ago people have been tinkering with the motors to make them go faster. Even in this green age of ours, and with gas seemingly costing $1,000,000 a fill-up, car makers have been trying to get more power with every passing year. It’s true that engines are way more efficient and burn a lot less gas than they used to, and deliver a much better bang for your buck. But it’s still the bang that counts!”
This was the longest and most eloquent speech I’ve ever heard from Peter. But I still wasn’t sure what his point was or why Peter looked so morose. I know that he had just bought his first six-cylinder car. He had always been insistent on driving a V8. The price of gas and the improved engines finally convinced him to make the switch.
He only had his new car for about a week. I do recall that he had complained that it didn’t have the rumbling sound that he loved from his bigger engines and without the rumble he wasn’t sure that he had the power. More to the point, his new car was well insulated from engine and road noise and had a buttery smooth suspension that evened out the impact of spring potholes. Well, the smallest ones anyways.
That’s when he laid the super-ticket on my desk. He had been charged with going 113 km/h in a 50-km/h zone. This was enough to give him a huge number of demerit points and result in his losing his driving privileges. (In Ontario, you’d probably be charged under the province’s ludicrous “street racing” law and have your car impounded, too. -Ed.) I asked him that question that I never like asking. “Were you really driving that fast?”
He gave me the look, and said, “Maybe. But I really don’t know how a little six-cylinder car could get me up to such a high speed from one stop sign to the next! I certainly didn’t hear the engine rumble nor did it feel like I was going anywhere near that speed.”
Even though the police officer did not legally have to do so, he had shown Peter the readout from the laser machine that had captured his speed. It clearly read 113 km/h. In the city. During daylight. Peter was in big trouble.
That’s what brought Peter back to his initial opening comment. “It’s the motors!” He wanted to know if he could use as a defense the fact that automakers had made modern cars so much more quiet and comfortable that it’s impossible to keep track of the actual speed you’re driving.
While Peter got full marks for creativity, there isn’t a judge on the planet who would accept that type of logic as a defense to a speeding ticket. The only valid defense these days is that the laser machine wasn’t working or that the police officer who operated it was incompetent. Neither was the case here.
There was nothing to be done. Peter was going to lose his drivers license and become a pedestrian.
Dear readers and fans of Steering You Right,
This is my 300th weekly column in this publication and due to circumstances beyond my control will also be my last. I hope that you’ve enjoyed Peter’s experiences, cracked a smile or two and even learned a little something along the way. It’s been a pleasure Steering You Right…