Several weeks ago I had business in nearby Cleveland, Tn., and began the 30-minute drive about noon. The moderate traffic was not bad, the driving conditions perfect, and, as I ventured into the left-hand lane to pass a slower truck, a Tennessee Highway Patrolman on a motorcycle took my picture with a radar gun.
I was watching in my rear-view mirror as he triggered his blue lights and I was actually able to get to the shoulder of I-75, come to a stop and wait until the patrolman was able to arrive and walk to the passenger side of the car. “Sir, you were going 82 miles an hour in a 55 mile-per-hour zone.”
“Yes sir, I am almost sure I was,” I was quick to agree. “With your permission I am going to get my wallet from my hip pocket so I can provide my driver’s license. I also must inform you I have a ‘carry permit’ for a firearm but there are no firearms in this car at this time.”
The trooper was a total gentleman and, me? I am the biggest fan of first responders, law enforcement, any and all military both past and present, and this is not to mention my admiration for America’s justice system, which is still unrivaled – mind you -- by any other nation in the world. Yet later this week I must appear with my citation in court and fully expect to pay a bullish fine.
Yesterday, I had to make another visit to Cleveland. I gauged my trip at the same time of the day I had been cited several weeks before and the traffic was nearly identical. So when I was traveling north on I-75, I triggered my car’s ‘cruise control’ at 70 mph, proceeding north, at the Highway 153 split. Understand, 70 is 15 miles in excess of the posted 55 mph – qualifying for “reckless driving.” I maneuvered into the center lane going north and in the now-55 mph zone (to Bonny Oaks) I overtook and passed nine other vehicles at my constant 70 miles per hour.
But at 15 miles over the posted limit in the same stretch of road, no less than 45 vehicles, including at least five tractor-trucks, flew past me. It was ridiculous and I will happily demonstrate this farce being openly foisted on the American people to any in law enforcement who wonders why the public no longer has faith in their common sense.
Some years ago I determined the “average speed of the herd” – the cluster of good and safe drivers between Chattanooga and Atlanta – was in the high 70s. It is obviously higher now. I have driven for years across the Southern states and, if you will go just a smidge under 80 – say 78 on your speed control – there is no way any police officer will dare you in court because it is universally established there is no way to stop the American driver.
About 10 years ago my Mother had an early-morning appointment with an eye specialist in Atlanta and I drove her down. Around Calhoun one of the county policemen, who are bad about preying on “low-hanging fruit” on the Interstate, tagged me at 82 miles an hour. I was my most affable – he was simply following his cash-driven orders – and, as we sat in his cruiser, he was writing my ticket.
“Lemee ask you something? Does this radar mount,” pointing to the dash camera, “work with you just idling here?”
“Sure,” he said, having no way of knowing that I would ask, “Do me a favor … shoot the next five cars that come by and let’s see the readouts.”
That sheriff’s deputy, stopped copying my license number, took his pen and proceeded to draw a huge ‘X’ on my ticket. He then wrote ‘Warning’ at the top, handed me my copy, and with due chagrin, bade me a good day with the admonition, “Slow down a little.”
Now, let’s take it one step farther. We all readily recognize harassment by ‘local yokels’ is a racket, a shameless money grab that now permeates Hamilton County and makes our courts and judges and sheriffs all smile so sweetly. This, when in total candor, they are openly violating the public trust so badly they are unable to recognize the cause for such rancor. At 15 miles in excess of the 55 mph speed limit on I-75, I firmly believe a conservative 80 percent of drivers on I-75 can be found at any time of the day or night are guilty of reckless driving. No? Go see for yourself. Any day. Any time. This is overtly absurd.
Anyone who adheres to 55 miles per hour in front of Hamilton Place Mall on 1-75 is, most truthfully, an accident waiting to happen. If my 82 is reckless driving, what is any judge, law enforcement captain, or – much better – a jury going to determine is the true and actual cause of a car full of children suddenly rear-ended by an inexperienced teen-aged driver in a red-hot Camaro SS, this in a car that can accomplish 175 miles per hour right out of the crate?
Today we have the fastest production cars ever. There are stockroom Chevrolet Corvettes, with window stickers of less than $80,000, that promise instant speed of 200 mph-plus, that’s 0-60 in less than three seconds, and you can buy one today. Right now. A Porche 911 GT3 is also guaranteed at 200 mph and you can get one today, right now, for $130,000 plus change.
Show me any rational person who believes we save lives and make America better with a 55 MPH speed limit in the heart of I-75 and I’ll show you a person who is off their medicine. This is not right and this is a simple monstrosity we can fix. And, in the process, if we can restore respect, appreciation and self-pride to those police who prey on the unsuspecting and the hardly guilty, it will be these politically-forced vultures themselves who will bear the greatest fruits of true justice.