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Ask Erin: Operating a vehicle is a responsibility | Kitsap Week

Erin Jennings  - Herald photo
Erin Jennings
— image credit: Herald photo

Something happened to me last week that hasn't occurred since I was 16 years old.

It didn't involve eating an entire bag of Cheetos and chasing it with a Mountain Dew. Nor did I have my braces tightened.

It involved a more painful event, one that rattled my pride and emptied my wallet.

I was pulled over for speeding.

When the menacing dark SUV turned on its sirens and pulled up behind me, I cautiously pulled to the side, and said "Ooo! Somebody is in trouble." (And I said it like "troub-bb-le.")

Turns out, that someone was me.

I was rather surprised when the officer asked me if I was aware I was driving 49 miles per hour in a 30-mile zone.

Me?

I'm a cautious and slow driver. People tailgate me as I dutifully drive 20 mph in school zones.

I turn on my blinker to signal a turn, even if no other driver is around.

And, of course, I maintain a three-car-length distance between my car and the one ahead of me at all times.

Speeding?

I couldn't believe it.

I told the officer that no, I wasn't aware of my speeding. But I said it in the nicest way I possibly could.

I handed over my license and registration.

And he walked back to his black behemoth-mobile, the blue lights still flashing.

And I waited.

Those that drove past me and looked sympathetically my way, I appreciate your kindness.

Those of you who gawked at me, don't cast stones. I was once a gawker like you and it feels pretty miserable to be in the driver's seat.

As a service to you, dear readers, I stopped by the Poulsbo Police Station earlier this week to find out more about those little slips of paper that cost so much and cause your car insurance to skyrocket.

Officer Ricki Sabado shared some insight on tickets.

First of all, it's a myth that officers have monthly ticket quotas to boost city coffers.  In fact, Sabado said the money generated from tickets is peanuts.The state takes its share, the county takes a piece and the city gets the leftovers.

If you are pulled over, Sabado said to keep both hands on the steering wheel. Traffic stops are dangerous for police officers. They never know who they are dealing with; keeping both hands visible is important.

Of course, and it should go without saying, be polite. Being hostile or aggressive will get you nowhere. Sabado also said bribes don't work. Don't even try. He's heard them all from money to favors to well...we won't go there.

Occasionally, Sabado has pulled over drivers who have a valid excuse for speeding. Sabado uses his instincts to gauge the truthfulness of the drivers. Like the elderly woman who was speeding late at night. She said she was rushing to the ferry because her husband was having surgery in Seattle.

The best way to prevent receiving a ticket is to not break the rules. That includes seat belt violations, cell phone use and, of course, speeding. And while most officers won't write you a ticket if you are going as little as four to five miles over the limit, some will.

I asked if he had ever received a speeding ticket.

"I'm no different than anyone," Sabado replied. He was picking up a motorcycle in Montana when he was pulled over. He still remembers the ticket cost him $194.

Sabado points out that if the police don’t enforce the rules, people will speed, run red lights and text while driving.

"It would be chaos," he said. “Our job is to protect the public."

When you put it that way, I see your point.

My ticket will serve as a reminder that operating a vehicle is a responsibility not to be taken lightly. And may it do the same for you, minus the hefty fine.

Check your speedometer

According to a pamphlet at the police station, here’s a simple method to check your vehicle's speedometer accuracy:

1. Find mile markers on a highway.

2. Use a stopwatch or wristwatch with a display that shows time elapsed in seconds.

3. Go exactly 60 mph between two mile markers. It should, of course, take exactly 60 seconds.

Ask Erin is a feature of Kitsap Week. Have a question? Write Ask Erin, Kitsap Week, P.O. Box 278, Poulsbo 98370 or email ejennings@northkitsapherald.com.

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