A Casualty of Revenue Collecting

  • October 12, 2023

They say “speed kills.” Here is a case-in-point.

A cop driving at very high speed struck and killed a motorcycle rider who had the bad luck to be in the wrong place at the wrong time – that place and time being in the path of the cop’s speeding car. The cop was driving so fast he’d outrun his sight lines; as he crested a gentle rise the bike was suddenly in his path. He never knew what hit him.

Literally.

Ironically – tragically – the cop was speeding to catch up with a speeder; that is to say, a driver who was going faster than the sign by the road says one may. No one knows how fast he was going. We only know how fast the cop was going – and what the result of that was.

We also know what the cause of that was.

The cop was determined to catch the “speeder” – and to do that, was willing to drive at whatever speed was necessary to catch up to him. Including speeds defined as reckless speed under the law, when someone who is not a cop drives that fast. As an example, it is prima facie “reckless driving” in Virginia to drive any faster than 80 MPH anywhere – irrespective of the speed limit (even when the speed limit is 70 MPH, as on some Virginia highways). But how can a cop running radar by the side of the highway catch up to a “speeder” doing say 83 MPH except by speeding even more than that?

And how is that not “reckless”?

Keeping in mind the cop running radar is typically sitting by the side of the road. How else is he going to close the distance between himself and that car that just passed by him doing 83 except by speeding a lot faster than that? If he drives within the speed limit, he will never catch up and the “speeder” will “get away.”

And so the cop speeds – often at speeds much higher than the speed of the car he’s trying to catch up to . . . in order to “bust” the driver for “speeding.”

This is an oddity – an incongruity – vis-a-vis the mantra of the Safety Cult (and the courts) that “speed kills.”

As it did in this case. Legally – officially.

Rather than charges or even repercussions for the speeding cop – who was driving so fast that he had almost no time to react to the sudden appearance of that motorcycle in his path – sympathy and condolences.

He meant no harm, of course. But neither, probably, did the “speeder” he was attempting to catch up to.

And that “speeder” killed no one.

Despite the fact, the “speeder” will be blamed for the death of motorcyclist killed by the speeding cop by people who seem to think that “speed” does not “kill” when it is a cop doing the “speeding.”

But the law must be enforced! 

At any cost?

In every case?

“Speeding” – as such – is a statutory offense. It is not a crime, properly (morally) speaking, in that it does not follow that “speeding” causes harm to anyone. If it did, few of us would risk driving – given practically every car on the road is “speeding,” which is a consequence of the fact that speed limits are almost always set below the reasonable speed most people drive. In order to make “speeders” of everyone, so as to make it easier to collect fines for “speeding” from almost anyone.

If you take issue with that then you must insist that most drivers are unreasonable by dint of the fact that most of them drive faster than whatever the speed limit is – and that’s not a reasonable argument.

Just the same as Prohibition – also widely defied – was not a reasonable law. Yet for years, Prohibition was enforced by any means necessary by officers of the law.

It is a similar situation with regard to speed laws – and the officers who enforce them. Their mandate – like that given to Prohibition-era cops – is to catch “speeders,” by any means necessary. If that means driving twice or even three times faster than whatever the posted speed limit is, then so be it.

The “speeder” must be caught!

If someone gets killed in the process, that’s just the price that has to be paid. By someone else, who had nothing to do with any of it.

The problem compounds because the “speeder” also has an incentive – to get away. The driver who is driving 83 on a highway with a 70 MPH speed limit and so driving not much faster than the normal flow of traffic when he drives past the cop hiding by the side of the road knows he is about to get a “ticket” – possibly for “reckless driving.” It gives him an incentive to drive faster than 83 MPH, in the hope that he might put as much distance between himself and the cop – and hundreds of dollars (possibly, thousands, if it’s a “reckless” charge) in fines.

The cop must drive even faster to catch up to the “speeder.” And now they are both really “speeding,” with the admixture of adrenaline and fear that attends a chase.

Some will say the “speeder” ought to just pull over. But – in the first place – he might not even be aware that a speeding cop is trying to catch up to him. And – in the second – the speeding cop closing on him, lights and siren blaring – can trigger the same understandable response as the sight of a German Shepherd off-leash and snarling.

It’s a dangerous dynamic – far more so than this maniacal obsession (in some parts) with catching “speeders,” no matter what it takes .

And no matter who happens to get in the way.

. . .

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