Years ago I chatted with a veteran Alaska State Trooper about the benefits of using his patrol vehicle while off duty.
“It must be nice having the government pay for fuel!”
The slightly rotund officer gave me a stare, and then went into a lecture about it being more of a hassle than anything. He explained that once a shift ended he drove home extra careful.
Sgt. Bob Vickers informed me that he had to drive the speed limit precisely or some citizen would turn him in.
“Because of such I became a hindrance to the smooth flow of traffic!”
The sergeant claimed it wasn’t unusual to have cars and trucks backed up a mile by his actions. He went on to say that after several years, he deemed it far safer to pull over and let folks pass.
Sgt. Vickers ended his spiel by hurling a loaded question my direction.
“Did you know that slow kills?”
I had to laugh when he said that. Most cops would utter the complete opposite.
Flash ahead several years and I find myself living in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. Several weeks ago I was stopped by a Mohave County Sheriff for speeding. There was no denying it. I was doing 70 on Highway-95 headed into town.
For information sake the speed limit at that specific location is 55. I’m not a constant speeder. I do so occasionally where defensive driving is concerned. It seems safer to go with the flow rather than against it. Far as I was concerned I had a reason to that day. I was leading the pack!
The young officer was extremely professional and courteous. He apologized for having to cite me, but in reality I should’ve been the one apologizing to him. He was merely doing his job!
Since that time I’ve been extremely careful in gauging my speed. I’d much rather spend money on other things besides traffic citations. A few days ago my wife and I drove to Kingman which is approximately 60 miles from home.
I decided to precisely follow all speed limits which vary considerably. I recorded my experience for curiosity sake, pretty much knowing what I’d find.
Before we’d rolled past Wal-Mart on the way out of town a total of 33 cars zipped by. Most would swing back in front of my little Chevy into the right hand lane. Judging by the nasty look on one gal’s face, I was an old man hindering her progress. At the time I was doing the posted 35 going across a bumpy bridge.
The drive from Lake Havasu City Airport onward was most noteworthy. As I cruised along at 65, cars and trucks flew by on my left at an alarming rate of speed. Some were easily doing 80 mph plus. This was on a four lane section of highway.
When asphalt narrowed to two lanes my vehicle stacked up east bound traffic like cordwood. Eventually a jacked up Ford pickup went whizzing past on a double yellow. I’m sure others wanted to follow.
The reckless Ford driver forced an oncoming car to the side of the road. I couldn’t help but notice an International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) decal on his back window. Perhaps he was going to a fire sale?
Some folks would claim I should’ve either sped up or pulled over. Maybe so? I was the citizen after all obeying traffic rules. If people drove as they were supposed to I would’ve never been in that position to begin with.
Looking in my rearview mirror near the turnoff to I-40, there were approximately 10 vehicles hot on my tail. I’m sure many more choice words were uttered.
Sgt. Bob Vickers was right in his assessment. Speed kills, yet slow can easily do the same. I was witness to that.
Hanging on my garage wall is a mangled license plate reading ARRIVE ALIVE. It came off a wrecked Chevy. Whatever it takes to ultimately fulfill that arrive alive goal dictates the way I’ll drive.
If that means going with the flow of traffic rather than against it, that’ll be my thing. I believe the late Sgt. Vickers would agree with me.
The unspoken rule for driving in Arizona seems to be,
“Lead, follow, or get out of my way!”
I’m cool with the later two. It’s leading the pack that seems to get me in the most trouble!