Jodie Foster or me. Speeding stories. Who faired better?

Reading about Jodie Foster’s speeding ticket experience reminded me of my own ticket four Sundays ago, and the adage about how important it is to be polite when stopped by the police. In case you missed this bit of celebrity gossip, Jodie Foster was clocked allegedly going 54 in a 35 mile an hour speed zone. Horrors. No, that’s not the gist of the gossip.

What is the story is that she argued with the police, and to make it a bit more interesting, a film crew from truTV’s reality show “Speeders ” was on the scene hoping to get her to sign a waiver so they could use the footage of her getting a ticket. She didn’t sign the waiver. Good for her. Still, Jodie, Jodie, Jodie, do not argue with the police.

According to the news, Jodie sputtered and argued that she was not going that fast. Maybe not. It is true that sometimes speed guns aren’t accurate. However, that said, Jodie, don’t argue. Arguing will get you no where and getting a ticket will not go any faster. You will be on your way when the policeman is finished.

Here’s what I did when I was stopped.

Like Jodie, when the officer stopped me, I was genuinely surprised. I didn’t think I was speeding. In my case, I thought something might have been wrong with my tail light. But, I took the ticket, was polite, and went on my way. At the time, I hoped he would notice just how polite I was and let me go on my way with a friendly warning. No such luck. Next step.

Then I had a lawyer go with me to court. I was still polite, but interested in making sure the ticket would not carry a point. Plus, I had my doubts.

When I talked with the prosecutor, he looked at my record–squeaky clean and then looked at what the ticket said–the officer had written down that I was polite. See? He then told me about people who don’t behave as nicely as I did, took out his pen, and reduced the speed. I still paid the fine–politely.

All in all, I left the courtroom feeling good. While I sat in traffic court watching case after case of people being polite and the prosecutor and the magistrate looking to cut them a fair break, I thought about how civility does pay off. From what I remember, everyone received some sort of break. No one got off, but everyone got a break–even the guy who kept forgetting to take off his hat. Each time he took it off, he apologized for forgetting-politely.

Jodie, next time, save it for court. You’ll be able to have your say, but be nice. To be fair, with the camera crew in on the scene, I can imagine how it would be hard to not lose it. No one was interested in my ticket. As polite as I was, it would have made for dull TV anyway.

By the way, I was one of the only people to have a lawyer. According to this article, having a lawyer is a good idea. Ever since my day in court, I am carefully watching my speed. I wouldn’t want to let that nice prosecutor down.

Speed cameras and red light cameras: Good or bad?

There are various thoughts about the effectiveness and fairness of speed trap or red light cameras. Some find them invasive. Some say, hey, if you don’t break the law, there’s nothing to worry about. The cameras aren’t something you can argue with easily, so perhaps that’s the beef with them. If you get caught, in general, you pay.

Here’s a case in point: About two years ago there was a photo of our car at a traffic light that arrived in the mail. Yep, either my husband or I were turning from 5th Street onto 4th Avenue in Columbus, Ohio and were snagged by the red-light camera. Neither of us are the type who speed through yellow lights, but on this day, either we turned into that person, or we had pulled into the intersection waiting to make the turn left once traffic passed. It was rush hour. While one of us was in the intersection, the light turned red.

Neither of us are claiming blame since we really can’t remember who was driving the car. Honest. Regardless, we sent in the money and I’m extra careful at that intersection. Not, that I’m not careful at any intersection, but I have it in my head to not take any chances at THAT intersection in particular.

Columbus installed these cameras to make certain intersections safer. Frankly, there are a couple that I think could use one. Some say that they are just revenue boosters for the city.

That’s what some are saying in Arizona, as well, according to this article. Although in Arizona, it’s the speed cameras that are causing a bit of an uproar. In Arizona, speed cameras are along certain sections of highway. Motorists aren’t happy because they say the camera makes people suddenly slow down too much when they see one. That makes it dangerous for everyone else.

In Ohio, that happens along I-71 whenever people see a police car in an emergency vehicle turn around lane. This is more of a scenario on the stretch from Mansfield to Cleveland, if you happen to be traveling on I-71. I see the police cars as friendly reminders. The speed trap in this photo was taken in Alaska.

If Arizona drivers are anything like those on the highways in Ohio, I can see why some might complain about speeders. It’s like being in the Indy 500 sometimes.

If the speed cameras give out tickets when a person is just going a few miles over the speed limit, I can see why that might make people a bit miffed. Who hasn’t gone over the speed limit when trying to pass a particularly slow car, or out of boredom on long stretches of road when the foot feels a bit heavy? Yes, I do know there’s a certain item called “cruise control.”

Also, there’s a difference between going a few miles over the speed limit and twenty. Perhaps that’s the trouble. In Arizona speeding costs a motorist $185. That is steep if you are only five miles above the limit. Because so many people are complaining, the cameras on state highways and state roads might be taken away, although maybe not for two years. The contractor who installed them needs to be paid.

If you’re in Arizona, keep your eye out for the cameras. They’re watching you. They’re also watching you along highways in other parts of the world. The complaints about them there are the same. This photo shows a speed camera in Brasilia.

By the way, the photo of our red light mishap didn’t show who was driving, and the video that I was directed to where I could see the incident didn’t show the traffic light. It also didn’t show if whoever was driving was stopped at the intersection before proceeding. Both of these are common complaints about what is wrong with some red light and speed camera systems.

Traffic Enforcement Camera at Wikipedia presents extensive details about the issues and statistics regarding accident reduction that are attributed to both camera types.