No Excuses

Red road sign STOP

The police are a very visible presence in Tasmania. It is rare that you can make a trip across town without seeing a good few police cars and at least one roadside alcohol test or speed trap going on. They are particularly present around schools at drop-off and pick-up, catching people who aren’t paying attention to the reduced speed limit at those times.

That’s a good thing. It has given us the opportunity to have a lot of discussions with DorkySon in the car about what the police do to support communities, how important it is to drive safely and responsibly, and what the negative effects of alcohol can be on people. When I was pulled over a few months ago as part of a large-scale breath testing initiative DorkySon was in the back of the car and thought it was very exciting indeed. It was over in less than a minute and with a reading of zero I was free to drive on, but he talked about it for weeks afterwards.Yesterday I got pulled over again, and DorkySon was in the back of the car again, but this time it wasn’t random. It was because I’d muffed up. I was over the speed limit in a school zone. I can’t begin to tell you how much of a dope I feel.

(Dope is not the word I was using about myself yesterday, but this is a family friendly blog, so I’ll hold back on that one…)

I wasn’t going ridiculously fast. But I was going too fast.

A driver in a big silver SUV had been tailgating me for about half a mile and I’d been paying so much attention to them in my rear view mirror – muttering things to myself about crappy, unsafe Hobart drivers – that I didn’t realise that I’d moved from the regular 50 zone into the 40 zone outside a nearby school. By the time I did realise, I was already being waved over to the side of the road.

You don’t need to tell me why you were over the limit in a school zone,” said the policeman as he approached my window. “But you can if you want to.

I didn’t want to. Because while there may often be an explanation for speeding – getting rattled by a tailgater, paying more attention to your son’s chat about his day than to your speedometer, hurrying home for a wee, whatever it is – none of the explanations are really a good enough excuse.

I was lucky to get a nice policeman. Because it was a first offence, I don’t get any points on my licence. I just got a big telling off, and will receive a letter in the post next week.

Get to the mailbox first and no-one else needs to know about it,” he said kindly.

Which may have been true if DorkySon hadn’t been sitting in the back of the car… I suspect I know what he will have written in his journal at school today.

It is going to be a few days, I suspect, before I stop feeling like an idiot. DorkySon has been kind, and told me that it was not my fault. But for once he is wrong. It is totally my fault. For once, I was the crappy Hobart driver, and while I will certainly forgive myself it is not a lesson I can let myself forget. It won’t happen again.

15 responses

  1. Used to be the same in the UK, now it’s only cars speeding to some accident or other. I’d love to see that sort of ‘presence’.
    Please introduce dorkyson to a couple of policemen, make it clear they are people, approachable etc?

  2. Husband got stopped for doing 42mph in a 30 zone a couple of weeks ago. No excuses. He was just impatient to get home for dinner.
    But when police ran a check, they discovered his car didn’t have its MOT. We’d assumed we’d get a reminder in the post when it was due – but that no longer happens.
    So a quick trip to drop our son at drama club resulted in TWO £100 fines and 3 penalty points.
    Dope isn’t the word we were using then either!

  3. I sympathise with how you’re feeling about being stopped, especially with your son in the car, but it’s good you have discussed all this with him. You might feel bad now but you have both learned a lesson. Most of us reading this know we have done the same thing at some point in our lives…just haven’t been caught.
    Reading the comment from mummy central – must check my MOT status!

  4. Yes!! MOT status has been written on the calendar this very moment – thanks Mummy Central.

    I too have noticed I have slipped over the speed limit whilst lost in my thoughts, or listening to the girls chatter in the back, or simply not paying attention t the signs and I berate myself every time thanking that nothing has ‘happened’ in that moment.

    I understand why being flagged down could cause you to be so angry with yourself but thankfully no points this time. I’m positive you won’t make the same mistake twice much to DorkySon’s disappointment.

  5. We’ve all been there, and it is nice to have sympathetic officer to let us know that the police actually are on our side. Things here in the U.S. are a little scary now on that front… I just don’t know how we became such a murderous country…

  6. Oh Ruth, this is one of those brief moments that stay with you for a long time, loving your honesty. I too would love that sort of police presence here too x

  7. Oh dear, these things are so easy to do though aren’t they? We laugh here as although I am the faster driver (easy to do with the autobahn afterall!) Mr R is the one who has received the speeding fines in incredibly slow areas. The police here are approachable and mostly friendly too though, although I do feel sorry for them in their rather unflattering uniforms! 😀

  8. The drivers in CA are terrible too (we are spoilt in the UK). Tailgaters in particular. I guess from now on you will ignore them! Can you go to traffic school?

  9. Oh Ruth – we all slip up sometimes, but after a warning like that I’m pretty sure you won’t again. And hopefully the whole experience will be remembered by DorkySon when he gets behind the wheel of a car too.

  10. There’s very few people who haven’t made this small mistake at some point but you have admitted your mistake and resolved to learn form it. That is a wonderful lesson to teach your son, because we all make mistakes…

  11. Pingback: A Quick Update « dorkymum

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