Fun_People Archive
17 Jun
Ten Tips for Fast Fearless Driving

Content-Type: text/plain
Mime-Version: 1.0 (NeXT Mail 3.3 v118.2)
From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Wed, 17 Jun 98 01:39:27 -0700
To: Fun_People
Precedence: bulk
Subject: Ten Tips for Fast Fearless Driving

X-Lib-of-Cong-ISSN: 1098-7649


Speeding-ticket headaches?

by Dr. Umberto Bigone

 I, Dr. Umberto Bigone, lover of high velocity vehicles and of using them
in the manner that God intended, share for the first time with my fellow
enthusiasts knowledge gained over decades of experience on heavily patrolled
highways of the nation and the world. I do this free of charge, though the
evolution of my secrets came in small, incremental, often expensive steps
as new situations, new equipment, and new measurement techniques caused my
original Golden Rule ("Watch Your Rear-View Mirror") to blossom into the
Ten Best Ways. As in all offers American, a disclaimer is called for: if,
after you learn these rules, you are apprehended, please do not attempt to
call me and threaten legal action. Remember that advice may be worth no more
than what you paid for it (nothing in this instance) and that Dr. Bigone's
special remedy cannot *eliminate* the risk of apprehension, though my tips
can and do dramatically reduce such risk.


 You cannot hope to speed with impunity without proper equipment. The best
radar detector money can buy is a mandatory investment. But there is more:
think about the car itself. A bright red Ferrari F40 or Lamborghini Diablo,
and a bespoilered and fat-tired Mustang GT are "ticket magnets." A
nondescript Ford Aerostar, in mouse-gray- metallic, or a powder-blue generic
U.S. sedan, are largely ticket-proof. It is sad, but the more overtly your
vehicle displays the intent for high-speed use, the less it will be capable
of doing so. Perhaps this fact explains why, in a presumably Darwinian
evolution, Corvette drivers have become slower and slower, to the point of
now being tragic but amusing mobile chicanes The answer to driving fast
without resorting to a dull automobile is the sports sedan, and fine
examples abound, ranging from the Infiniti Q45 to the Taurus SHO and the
Dodge Sprint R/T. If ordered in other than "Arrest-Me-Red", the modern
sports sedan will provide many more miles of hassle free motoring at far
greater speeds than a more "overt" vehicle. All cars may look the same to
a radar gun, but radar is not the only threat, and if you are stopped, the
type of vehicle you drive and *what it says s about your driving style* can
be of decisive importance


 This is a straightforward rule. Believe your detector, even if it gives
only a short, uncertain signal. It may well be the dreaded K-band
"instant-on" aimed at vehicles ahead of you. How often have I, hurtling down
the highway, heard the first plaintative bleat from my Escort, pulled
courteously to the right, permitted my close follower (in disregard of Rules
5 and 6) to blast by, only to have him receive a full dose of microwaves
seconds later. This is inevitably followed by the offensive sucking-vacuum
sound of a large police cruiser rushing past the now sanctimomously-slow
Dr. Bigone. The scene ends, so sad, with a display of flashing lights
somewhere up ahead Scanning X-band radar is falling into increasing disuse,
and many agencies are resorting to traditional seek-and-pace techniques. Or
they may sneak up behind, match your speed, and then, within range, squeeze
off a burp of instant-on to lock up the evidence. So sad, yes? You must
learn to recognize "threat" vehicles. Even though the telltale "light bar"
is increasingly absent, threat vehicles have some common characteristics:
they are almost always American, usually full-size Fords, full-size
Chevrolets, Mustang GTs, or Plymouth Gran Furys/Dodge Diplomats. Period.
Even without light bars, you should be able to pick out these vehicles at
great distances by looking for windshield-pillar mounted spotlights
(carefully folded inward) and, more importantly, fat tires. When approaching
a suspect vehicle from the rear, look for the above cues plus check the
underside for the telltale stabilizer bar, especially on Chevrolets. If you
think you see a well-shod white, ivory, blue, or black Diplomat, Caprice,
Mustang, or Crown Vic in your rear-view mirror, slow down! Permit him to
come closer for positive identification. The seconds lost are meaningless
and quickly regained if the possible threat is found to be benign. When
entering a new state, take a few moments at a local gas pump to learn what
types of vehicles and what types of surveillance the indigenous enforcement
professionals use. It's time well spent.


 Daytime threat-avoidance is different from night-avoidance. You see the
threat earlier, but he also sees you. (This is where the wisdom of Rule 1
becomes apparent: Innocuous cars may pass unnoticed.) When moving smartly
in daylight hours, constantly scan your mirrors and the road ahead for
threats. Slow when going through underpasses, for the enforcer may be parked
out of sight behind the far-side concrete. Be suspicious of *any* vehicle
parked on the inside or outside shoulder. Slow down until you are sure it
is not an enforcer. Check on-ramps as you drive by them. Give a quick look
over your right shoulder, all the way to the top of the on-ramp to ensure
that it is clean of the authorities. Monitor your rear-view mirror
constantly for any sign of unusual activity. Try to remember cars that you
pass. If, later, you see what appears to be a possible threat vehicle far
behind you and don't remember passing it, slow down for identification. Even
if you are *reasonably sure* you passed it, if that vehicle is now *matching
your speed* (not getting smaller in your rear-view mirror), slow down for
positive identification. Proper daytime scan has saved the author as many
as five times per month.


 At night, the radar-silent enforcer is hard to see. The daytime rules of
underpass-slowing and on-ramp checking apply, but are more difficult to
execute. The risk of moving up on an enforcer vehicle can be minimized by
learning taillights. This is largely a process of elimination: pickups,
vans, minivans, and Japanese or European vehicles are not likely to be
threats. Nor are Chevettes, Escorts, GM J-bodies, or any front-wheel-drive
vehicle. But if it looks large, or has Mustang LX taillights, you must
immediately look for folded-in spotlights and/or fat rubber. Tragically, if
these items are present, you must slow down, though it might only be an
employee of a private security service on his way home. You can't take the
chance. The prime instrument for night driving is the rear-view mirror, and
the prime rule is to drive fast enough so that all headlights of passed
motorists reduce rapidly in size. Any pair of headlamps that maintains the
same size or the same separation between the lamps calls for immediate
deceleration pending positive identification.


 You can move fast without exposing yourself, because you can usually find
a "hare" who is pleased to demonstrate that his car is better than yours.
Never attempt to dissuade him: instead, drop back to a safe distance and
enjoy the radar shield. Do maintain the rear scan, because threat vehicles
coming from behind you are now your responsibility.  Moving in a lane
containing Class 8 trucks some distance ahead will also shield your car
until you pass the truck. In daylight hours, you may choose to run at times
with lights, at times without, hiding yourself in front of a group of trucks
when you change illumination. The reason forthis is that an enforcer, having
"noticed" you from a long distance back, will be looking for a certain
as-yet-unidentified vehicle with lights on (or without) as he moves quickly
up through traffic. Suddenly, he is in identifiable range of a vehicle
*similar* in size and shape to the one he believes may have been violating,
only now the illumination is differentfrom what he saw earlier, thus
rendering him unsure.  Meanwhile, you, practicing Rule 2 and 3, will have
slowed to a quasi-legal speed. This usually draws a perplexed and suspicious
look from the officer, but no pull-over order, *especially if you have
removed your radar detector from the windshield or visor.* An integral part
of deception and hiding is the placement and removal of the detector. The
unit belongs on the windshield or dash *directly in front of you* so that
a following threat vehicle cannot see it. If you were an enforcer, would
you not pursue vehicles wherein reside little amber or green blinking lights
and kinky power cords, which can be seen from hundreds of feet away? If you
believe you have been actually "noticed" by a trailing police vehicle, hide
in front of large trucks, accelerate while under cover, and exit any
off-ramp or rest area. At this juncture, you have nothing to lose. Any time
you believe that an officer wants to close in on you, remove the detector
at once and place it on the seat next to you. If you are in imminent danger
being stopped, execute the following emergency procedures in sequence: (1)
remove detector and jam under seat, (2) wipe off suction cup or other
telltale mark with moistened index fingertip, and (3) *replace the cigarette
lighter!* An empty cigarette lighter outlet is a dead giveaway to the
officer that he is dealing with a chronic but sly violator. He will treat
you accordingly.


 Many an otherwise-experienced and skillful motorist gets done in by what
I call "clumps." Clumps are largish groups of vehicles covering all
available lanes which move at, or close to, the posted limit. Danger lurks,
strangely enough, because the vehicles are maintaining a very safe
nose-to-tail distance, thus permitting the unsuspecting enthusiast to
carefully make his way through. Unfortunately, when he emerges at the front
of the clump, he will see a blinding array of flashing lights overwhelming
his rearview mirror. Moral: most loose clumps contain at least one enforcer
vehicle, one near the front (a marked cruiser) and maybe one near the
center, or end, checking for lane-changing and in-and-out weaving. The
latter may be unmarked, but knowledge of Rule 2 makes it a dead giveaway.
There is *no* excuse for getting caught in a clump.


 Instant-on may be placed so that the violator can be "shot" just as he
crests a hill, before he has a chance to react. The crest ahead of you may
also hide a police vehicle coming in the other direction, radar at the
ready. Slow down before crests. It's safer.


 The smart motorist does not alienate others. Slow to a *moderate* speed
differential when passing other motorists. (After all, one of those
benign-looking minivans may contain an off-duty officer equipped with pen
and phone.) It is also good judgment to avoid provocative license plates
such as "HI OFCR" or "SPEEDR." If I were an enforcer, I would give no breaks
to those bearing the bumper sticker, "How's my driving Call 1-800-EAT-SHIT."


 Rapid motoring is a serious business incompatible with any simultaneous
activity. Women can't conk their hair, males can't shave, and nose-probing
is out of the question for both sexes. Caressing the passenger s fine thigh
is permissible only while driving at, or near, the posted limit. Marital
arguments, discussion of offsprings' grades, negotiations involving business
- in person or on a car phone - are all incompatible with Rules 1 through
9. The enthusiast's favorite argument that the skilled, dedicated driver is
safe at higher than average speeds holds true *only* if he is unimpaired
and totally focused on the task at hand.


 Chronic rapid driving will, statistically, get you stopped sooner or later.
Observance of Rules 1 through 9 will make it much, much later, but not
"never." The consequences of the interception depend mightily on your
behavior. Do not act blase. A cocky stance of "Okay, so-you-got-me" is
provocative. So is attempting to argue that there must be some
terriblemistake, you know you were under the limit. Failure to remove the
detector and the suction-cup marks and to replace the cigarette lighter will
terribly disappoint the officer. (It is now, by the way, that you wish you
hadn't ordered the Sports Decor Pack," but this is a moot issue.) Be
courteous, candid, and contrite. Trembling while handing over your license
demonstrates that this situation is an unusual and terrifying experience
for you. It shows respect for the law and fear of punishment. (You'll do
this automatically .) The question, "Do you have any idea how fast you were
going?" should be answered with, "Truly, I don't - my mind was wondering."
(This is accurate: You were not focusing on Rules 1 through 9!) "But I must
have been over the limit or I guess you wouldn't have stopped me." Note that
you weren't speeding *deliberately* - no "late for work" or "catch a plane"
excuses! Your attention drifted a bit, that's all, no premeditated
criminally was involved! At this point, the officer may run a computer check
on your hopefully uninteresting driving record which, if you have been
diligently and consistently been practicing Dr. Bigone s rules, will be
point-free! The resultant action may well be (1) a warning, (2) a modest
fine not involving points, or (3) some "break" in the reported excess speed,
minimizing the points and thus limiting the damage. The author has
experienced all of these outcomes.

There you have it! May you drive enjoyably, safely, with low insurance
premiums and a good, clean driving record.

prev [=] prev © 1998 Peter Langston []