There is no easy way to say this, so I’m just gonna say it straight out:
I’m not too fond of cops. (At least not the ones where I’m at.)
I’ve been driving for 10 years. I tend to drive on the fast side and would love to floor the gas pedal when given the chance. However, I have never caused an accident. And before going to medical school, I have never been pulled over by a cop.
Since medical school, over the span of 1 or 2 years, I have received 3 tickets. I had points added to my license. I had to pay out hundreds of dollars in fines. All within a 2 mile radius.
As much as cops like to deny that there aren’t any quotas for tickets, I firmly believe that quotas do exist. Just remember the rule:
Follow the money.
The Business of Tickets
What earns the state and the police force more money? Catching real and dangerous criminals? Or catching average citizens and giving them a hefty fine? You don’t need to be Einstein to figure this out.
And did you know that auto insurance companies donate speed radars and various other speed-determining equipments to enforcement agencies? Now the companies are not doing this because they are selfless. Au contraire, mon frère. When you pay a ticket to get it over with (which is what most people do), you automatically plead guilty. Not only do you have to pay the fine, you also get points. Because you now have more points, your auto insurance would go up as well.
The state, the cops, and the insurance companies are all profiting at your expense. It’s a well-oiled business machine.
(In defense of cops, they’re just pawns in the system. If the big chief in blue says you gotta meet your quota, you gotta meet it … or else you’ll be out of a job. I doubt lots of these guys, when they first joined the force, wanted to be a mere rule monitor and ticket dispenser. What is it that they say? Don’t hate the player, hate the game?)
So needless to say, every time I see a cop car when I’m driving, I don’t get a good feeling.
When a Cop Gotta Make Quota, He Gotta Make Quota
One day when I was driving back from my far-away rotation, I was about to go on the fast lane. I put on my signal light, indicating that I was about to change lane. Instinctively … because I like to be constantly aware of the cars around me, I checked my mirrors to get a idea of what cars are where. And there it was! A cop car! And it was quickly catching up to me.
I instantly turned off my signal lights and remained in the same lane. I went as fast as the car in front of me — going 70 miles per hour. The speed limit was 65 miles per hour. The cop car quickly caught up to me and began following me.
Oh shoot! Is he gonna pull me over? I didn’t do anything wrong.
Well, technically, he could pull me over for going as fast as traffic, since I was going 5 miles per hour (MPH) higher than the speed limit. I didn’t know what to do. Should I slow down to 65 MPH or stay at the same speed?
I remained at the same speed as traffic. And he kept following me. Oh man, he’s out to give tickets.
I figured that there is a 90% chance I would not get a ticket. The unwritten “rule” is that you’re speeding when you go 10 MPH faster than the limit. I was only going 5 MPH faster. But then there is a 10% chance that he’s a dickhead and would give me the ticket. If he gotta make quota, he gotta make quota.
(Looking back, I should have slowed down to 65 MPH. If I have to go slower than traffic, so be it. At least he’ll have no reason at all to give me a ticket. There is a law against speeding — even if it is only 1 MPH above the limit — but there isn’t a law against driving slower than everyone else … unless you’re going really, really slowly.)
Here’s something to remember … A cop does not need a radar gun to establish your speed. He only has to follow you at the speed you’re going and read his dashboard. Based on that alone, he can determine how quickly you’re going.
Sometimes, the cop will try to get tricky. He will speed. And if you follow him for a bit of a distance, he can still give you a ticket.
I was thinking to myself:
Is he following me for a distance before pulling me over? Basically, establishing proof that I was speeding? Or he is waiting for me to change lanes and drive even faster?
He kept following me for 20 seconds more. It could have been longer. I wasn’t really keep time.
Then finally … a car on the left lane passed the cop and then passed me. The cop quickly changed lanes and followed the new car. Phew! Close call.
I was very relieved, but still very curious about what was gonna happen. The other car quickly realized that a police was tailing him. So he quickly changed to the middle lane. That’s what I would have done. But the police followed him to the middle lane.
I guess he kept driving at whatever speed he was going. Because he then changed to the left lane and passed a black pick-up truck. Then once he passed the truck, he quickly got back onto the middle lane. The police continued to follow him. And there it was — the flashing of blue and red. I knew then that it was game over for the unlucky driver.
I don’t know why the other driver had to pass the pick-up. I would have remained at the speed of the vehicle in front of me. Or I would have slowed down to the speed limit. Maybe he was trying to “shake off” the cop. I dunno.
I honestly felt bad for that poor chap. He was at the wrong place at the wrong time.
I’m telling you. Once I’m a doctor, the patients are coming to me! The less I drive, the less cops I see. Or maybe I need a friend in blue to help me out. If you’re a cop, lemme know if you’re interested in being friends with a doctor.
For more medical school stories, visit the About Alex section and look for “Blast from the Past (Stories of My Medical School Days).”