Several weeks ago, while listening to Gerald Clemente on a talk show radio program, Gerald mentioned that the previous weekend in the State of Virginia, almost 7,000 traffic tickets were issued in ONE WEEKEND!
As townships and states all across the Union are feeling the pressure of this Depression, they are turning to police to help raise money through vehicle or traffic citations. Small towns are installing surveillance cameras at intersections that can catch drivers cutting a fast yellow light, running a red, not coming to a full stop, not stopping behind the line, etc. The camera catches license plate numbers and a computer sends the ticket in the mail. I think that soon they’ll just debit your checking account.
BEARS MANNING THE SPEED TRAPS
Some townships, such as Medford Township, where I live in New Jersey, have lowered the speed limit on certain stretches of road, turning those roads into cash cows. I live on one such road. Taunton Blvd in Medford, NJ has a 2-mile stretch that used to have 35-MPH posted. Now the speed limit is 30-MPH. One morning around 9:15, I was at the corner gas station at the intersection of Taunton Blvd and Tuckerton Rd and saw that the other three corners of the intersection had police cars with lights flashing like crazy while drivers were getting ticketed. The gas station owner said, “This has been going on since 7AM when I got here. One, right after another”
Obviously, The Law is using traffic tickets to make up for loss of state and federal revenues. Last week I saw that my town will be raising school taxes because of a huge shortage of money from the State and the Fed. To make up the shortage, the average local taxes will go up $300 per year – about $25 a month.
The very same day that I read about my real estate taxes going up, I saw this headline in USA Today…
“Speeding ‘cushion’ may dwindle due to recession”
Here’s the USA Today link…
The story has a lot of interesting statistics, but here’s the bottom line. When you see a sign that says, “SPEED LIMIT” the word “LIMIT” means “LIMIT” It doesn’t mean 3-MPH, or 7, or 8-MPH over the limit. The “LIMIT” is THE LIMIT!
END OF ARGUMENT.
Where I live in Southern New Jersey, a 45-minute drive could easily take me through 10 townships, each one with their police task force looking for the SLIGHTEST infraction of the law. ANY infraction of the law!
FIRST TICKET IN 65 YEARS!
Here’s a good one for you. My Mom and Dad live in a retirement community in rural Florida. It’s quite common for the main road to have very little traffic. Dad’s 81 years old, sharper than a tack, with excellent motor skills. He still thinks he’s 41. They went to the grocery store one day and on the way out of the parking lot (with NO traffic in sight, BOTH ways), Dad didn’t come to a FULL and COMPLETE STOP. Less that 1/4-mile down the road as they were turning into their community, all the sirens and lights were in his rear-view mirror. “What’s the problem officer?” he asked. “You failed to come to a full stop sir. Here’s your citation.” This was his SECOND ticket in 65 years of driving. I said, “Well Dad, you were just overdue.”
So, between the fine, court costs and a class he had to take to keep from getting points on his record, (if you get points, the insurance company wants to punish you too, even at 81-years of age) Dad made a $200 donation to his town. I said, “Gee Dad, that was VERY nice of you.” He replied, “Yea, I’m SO nice.”
WELL, MAYBE THAT’S WHAT WE HAVE TO DO TO BE SAFE
Now if you’re thinking, “Well, if that’s what it takes to make things safer on the roads, maybe it’s a good thing.” Look, I know that car crashes can be devastating. But nailing drivers for minor infractions is nothing more than a regressive TAX. This is the same “logic” I hear concerning everything we have to do today to get on a plane. Where does it end? REAL strip searches? Maybe we should be shackled to our seats? There was one plan I read about a few years ago that would have required passengers to wear RFID bracelets with a built in Taser device. “Well, if it keeps us safe…” Over ten years ago I read that cars would one day be equipped with a camera that aimed at your eyes that would report to the authorities if your eyes weren’t looking straight ahead and listening devices that will make sure your not arguing with someone. Can’t have distractions, you know. For those with GM’s OnStar systems, police can shut off your car if they choose. So where does it end?
And the lower your income, the larger the impact will be for simply not coming to a full stop or being 3 MPH over the limit. A $200 fine for someone with a big income is a minor nuisance. The same fine for someone just eking by could mean not being able to buy groceries or medication. And you BETTER pay the fine or they’ll put a warrant out for your arrest.
Having a Tough Time Financially? TOO BAD!
As this Depression we are in continues on, and more and more townships struggle with their budgets, they WILL turn to this kind of regressive tax into income generation. And have you ever noticed that when government gets bigger, or new rules or fines are imposed, they never go away? They’re permanent. So, if and when we ever get out of this Depression, don’t expect townships to lower those fines. No way! They’re going to start liking that extra money and they ain’t about to stop that gravy train.
Look, times are tough and they are going to get tougher. Unless you are housebound or live in the city and only ever use public transportation, you have to use a car to get around. So when you’re out going here and there, BE CAREFUL. PAY ATTENTION because your local police officers are no longer just “Keeping the Peace.” Their Commanders have instructed them, “WRITE MORE TICKETS!” That means they’re looking FOR YOU AND ME.
To Serve & Protect
There’s a common saying that’s painted on many police cars that says, “To Serve and Protect.” Perhaps it should be changed to, “To Serve and Collect.” Police now have a new duty, to participate in tax collection. They start the process with a little piece of paper.
And one last thing. If you do get pulled over, you’re GETTING A TICKET. Don’t talk, don’t try to explain or argue, unless you’d like a Taser experience. So, MOTORIST BEWARE! This is the only warning you’re going to get!
Save the Wave
K. Scott Teeters
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K. Scott Teeters is an automotive writer and artist. You may enjoy his Corvette art at http://www.illustratedcorvettteseries.com and his nostalgia drag racing art at http://www.precision-illustration.com. His Illustrated Corvette Series column can be seen monthly on the last page in Vette magazine. And his Illustrated Corvette Series book by CarTech will be out late 2010. Enjoy his Corvette opinions and updates at http://www.corvettereport.com.
What are your thoughts? Have you been stopped recently and given no mercy, no warning? Share your experience here!