I saw a news story earlier this week in which North Carolina police warned folks in the Tar Heel State that they would be cracking down on speeding. They’ve launched an “Obey the Sign or Pay the Fine” campaign. (Apparently the law enforcement folks really, really like law enforcement campaigns that involve simple and annoying rhymes, like the “Click It or Ticket” seatbelt effort.)
The point of this North Carolina law enforcement initiative apparently is to disabuse drivers of the notion that there is some sort of safe speed above the posted limit that you can drive without getting pulled over and cited. The news story linked above says the common belief is that so long as you are going less than 10 m.p.h. over the speed limit, you’re okay. Nope, says the North Carolina Department of Transportation: in this new campaign, they’ll be ticketing anyone going even one mile an hour above the posted limit.
One mile an hour? Yikes! That’s expecting a lot of precision out of the speedometer in my car. It doesn’t provide me with a digital readout, after all; it’s just an orange arrow that points in the general direction of a range of numbers and can move abruptly. And since the numbers on the speedometer occur in increments of 10, there’s not even a “65” for the arrow to point at — 65 is just one of the little lines between 60 and 70. If I got a ticket for going 66 in a 65 m.p.h. zone on a North Carolina freeway, I wouldn’t be a happy camper.
I’ve never thought there was a 10 m.p.h. buffer zone, anyway. But I do think there may be another kind of calculus that highway drivers should consider, and that’s the day of the month. Have you ever noticed that many more patrol cars are on the road at the end of the month? It always makes me wonder whether there is some kind of monthly quota that highway patrolmen and local police are hoping to meet. And — purely by coincidence, I’m sure — the North Carolina “Obey the Sign or Pay the Fine” campaign started on March 24.
I’d come up with some kind of clever, poetic reminder of this for the drivers out there, but I can’t think of a word that rhymes with “end of the month.”