Road Stories

Gene Comments on "Radar Detectors"

Gene Comments on "Radar Detectors"

Regarding Don Hanson's comments on the constitutionality of radar detectors, I couldn't agree with him more. I think it will take a massive protest from drivers in those states that ban them before they will stop their enforcement of a law that is patently illegal. The internet would be a perfect medium to launch a petition to be sent to the Governors, Senators, State Representatives, Departments of Motor Vehicles, etc. demanding, not pleading, that the law be rescinded. Vincent Soo's comments cracked me up. Not paying a ticket and getting a letter from the Virginia DMV telling him he was no longer welcome in that state. That sounds almost as serious as being drummed out of the Book of the Month Club. Imagine the mentality of the dork who thought that one up. I guess it can be attributed to modern dynamic bureaucracy in action.

Although I have a good RD I usually keep it in the driver's door pocket and rarely use it unless I'm in well known heavily speed trapped areas, which means much of the state. Also we have more state troopers per mile of interstate highway than any other state. Something like one for every mile and a third. Wyoming is number 50 with one for each 250 miles! Here they park five and six together like wolf packs in the median strip of I-95. When you pass one of these groups you have a tendency to think that it's okay to speed up because all the troopers in the area are there. Five miles down the road you come across another group just like the last one. It reminds me of the endless stuff on the tube about African wild life where you see groups of lions watching huge herds of wildebeests passing by and every now and then a couple of lionesses take off and nail one. That's probably where they got the idea.

Florida, being flat as a pancake, enables the blue knights to pick you up sooner than they could in hilly terrain. It was giving me a false sense of security, and I usually collected two or three tickets per year. A few of them were made worse by the trooper noticing the RD. Also, they don't help much if a plane or chopper clocks you between two known points as they commonly do here. I finally got the mother of all speeding tickets while racing a guy in a Corvette on a basically empty highway. We were both nailed by sheriffs driving a radar equipped unmarked car. At that time, the 55 mph limit was still in effect. The Vette had been tailgating me for miles at about 75mph. I moved into the right lane and waved him by but he came right over and continued tailgating me. Dumb, but I finally allowed him to goad me into it and took off. I went up to about 110 or 120 and held it there. He passed me and gave me the universal single finger salute of brotherly love. While he was tailgating me I had noticed a little blue Pontiac behind us but paid no attention to it.

When he shot me the bird, I felt that he badly needed a lesson in humility, so I let him get several hundred yards ahead, downshifted to fourth and nailed it. He saw me coming and did the same. I caught him about a mile down the highway and blew by him quite briskly. As soon as I got the satisfaction of seeing the look of shock and horror on his face, I started coasting down. He passed me again and gave me the second iteration of the previous salute. Just about then I saw the blue light far behind. By the time the little blue Pontiac came up behind me I had coasted down to about eighty. The Vette also saw them and started doing the same thing. They motioned for me to follow and they then did the same to him. Two young guys in jeans and T shirts, also large shiny badges and guns. They collected both our licenses and got on the radio. In about ten minutes I saw the Vette driver signing his ticket and as he passed me on the grass shoulder he stopped for a moment along side me and told me that they had written him up for 100 mph OVER the speed limit and that with his driving record could expect at least ten days in jail. His ticket was for almost $600.00! He took off. Not a happy camper.

I laughed, but it was gallows humor. I expected the electric chair or at the very least, the chain gang, which this very progressive state reinstituted several years ago. One of the cops came back, looked at me and said: "Man, you really blew him into the weeds!" I didn't say boo. He continued: "Do you know that you outran our radar! When you passed the other guy he was doing over 150! You must have been doing at least 180!" I assured him that the only way my shark could go 180 was if it fell out of a C-130. Fortunately he had a sense of humor. He laughed and said: "Okay, we saw that clown tailgating you for miles. We were just getting ready to stop him when you took off as we knew you would. If it had been me, I would have also. We don't blame you for what you did, but you didn't have to do it insuch dramatic fashion! I've been a cop for six years and I've never seen a car go that fast on a public highway before. Because of the circumstances we're going to give you a big break and only write you up for 50 mph over the limit. The other guy is going to see some jail time. My advice to you is pay the ticket right away and sign up for driver's school, that will keep the points off your license and you won't have to worry about losing it."

Thats' exactly what I did. Paid the fine the next morning. Can't remember the amount, but do remember that it was considerably more than I paid for my first two cars. Sat through driver's school for the second time. Stayed off death row, and was forced to alter my lifelong driving style by speeding only when I really knew it was cool. That was in 92 or 93. Stashed the RD and have been ticketed only once since then in Texas by a trooper who lasered me at 75 in a 65 zone when we were the only two cars in sight from horizon to horizon. Gave me a long windy lecture punctuated with lots of snide references to"smartass yankees who drive fancy German cahs" etc. The ticket was for $85.00, cheap by Florida or Hawaii standards. But I did the same thing with it that Vincent did in Virginia. That was five years ago but I still avoid route 10 between Flatonia and Fort Stockton whenever I find myself in that part of the country.

Longwinded way of saying after using RDs for many years I still drive with brio but am more careful about the venue that I do it in, especially when I pass through Virginia which I usually do a couple of times each year. This is not meant as a put-down on RDs by any means. They saved my tail a lot of times, but I still relied too heavily on them and got enough tickets to ruin some of the joy of driving not only 928s but all the sports cars I've owned over the years. Quite probably many of you can resist the temptation to get
a little too heavy footed. I have trouble even now, but know if my RD was working I'd up my speed accordingly. A further benefit. My insurance rates are less than half what they used to be.

Gene O'Rourke
87S4 5 sp

928 Tips Home     Greg's Home