Sunday, February 26, 2017

Getting Caught

So you know how, occasionally, you break the rules of the road? You learned them, you know them, and most of the time, you're a good, safe, legal driver. But do it.

Come on, be honest, we all do it. You see the sign that says "no right on red". But it's late, and you can see clearly that there isn't another car in sight. And you aren't really running a light. So you turn.

Or the speed limit on a certain road is time sucking 25 mph. You aren't going to really speed, you think, but certainly, 35 mph feels more reasonable.

You totally feel like a good, safe, driver. But you're also a reasonable adult who can make adjustments.

Then you get caught.

It happened to me one day, when I was driving to school. I was one of those super early in the morning teachers, and I drove a route that was totally clear of cars at that hour, but riddled with traffic lights. One of those lights was at a huge intersection - 4 lanes in each direction. I needed to turn left, and the light at this intersection had an arrow. This arrow was totally necessary during the day and evening - you'd never be able to turn left without it. But when you are the only car around, and you are sitting at a red arrow, with two green lights allowing the imaginary cars to go straight next to you, and this light lasts for a long time and isn't triggered by a sensor, it's frustrating.

So I turned left, off a totally clear road onto another totally clear road, but against a red arrow.

And then I got pulled over.

I hadn't seen the police car, sitting at the edge of a nearby parking lot. I doubt he was looking for me, but I had blatantly run a red light, and it was obvious.

The worst part about this, and what made me so mad, was that I couldn't plead ignorance, or extenuating circumstances, or anything. I broke a law, I got caught, and it was embarrassing. Because I was too exasperated to sit at a light, I actually extended my time by sitting on the side of the road, getting a ticket. And yeah, I was mad. I railed about how stupid that light was, and how ridiculous the cop was to pull me over, but the fact was that I was mostly ashamed, because, legally, I had no legs to stand on.

A friend of mine posted something on Facebook about how irritated she was that she'd gotten pulled over for holding her phone and "texting while driving". She had an app loaded onto her phone that both read and took dictation for her to send messages, all with her never having to look at the phone.

But, she was holding it. Was it hands free? No. Was she texting? Yes. And she admitted, in her Facebook post, that the worst part about getting pulled over wasn't the ticket - it was the shame of it.

And with my kids? Getting caught is the worst because they ask all kind of innocent questions about why you broke a rule.

Kids and shame - the two big motivators to know the laws and follow them.
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