Posted by: Bonnie Anderson | September 15, 2011

The Proof is in the Policing

On a highway near me there is a sign which reads, “Red Light Enforcement Begins Sept. 15.”  I was fairly certain the sign was indicating that those infamous cameras would be used to begin ticketing individuals for running the red light on that date, even though I knew that in reality the sign gave everyone a get-out-of-jail-free card to run that red light until the 15th.  Every time I drove past this sign I would read it again, hoping that someone would step up and fix the grievous wording, but it never happened.

Then, yesterday on the last day of penalty-free red light running, I spotted a police car sitting in the median next to the sign.  While I was sitting at my red light (choosing not to run it), I figured he was going to have some fun issuing tickets and seeing if there was a grammarian in the string of offenders that might challenge him.  But, no.  He was sitting and watching people run the red light.  When my light turned green I watched as four cars ran through the opposite red light and the cop just sat there, probably with his hands tied (or cuffed) realizing that he was powerless to go against the words on the sign.  I felt a kindred spirit with that officer.  I think he and I would both agree that yes, the pen is indeed mightier than the sword, or in this case electronic words are mightier than the ticket pad.

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Responses

  1. That’s too funny. Of course, given the sign, the police officer could have stated that it did not mention the year, and in fact, the ticket would stand in court, haha. 🙂

    • You are probably right, Amethyst. There is always a loop hole to jump through.

  2. I am so glad you waited!
    I ran (thank G0d, pun NOT intended) a similar situation two weeks ago. I had a yield sign. The road I was entering was five lanes wide.
    I know that a yield sign means you are always wrong- since the sign indicates you never have the right of way. Yet, what would you think if there are no vehicles in lanes 1-4 contiguous to you and about 200 feet back is a vehicle in lane 5, which is the one indicating that you will continue straight (by an arrow on the road)?
    I thought, and proceeded. The vehicle in lane 5 sped up to pass me and turn right in front of me. And, then right behind me was a policeman with his lights on. No, I hit no one (which amazed the policeman). Who told me I should assume that no one pays attention to signs- even if he is 200 feet behind me and six lanes away. (I was tempted to ask – then why would one assume I would follow the sign?) But, he was after the guy who cut me off (or to whom i failed to yield) since he had clearly been moving at 80 mph in a 25.
    And, I did inquire of the local county, “What do you plan to do with the two through lanes? Perhaps a barrier would be useful, so this situation would not recur.” Their reply was to put a sign up to remind those in the two left lanes. (I guess that is “better” than painted arrows on the highway 🙂 )

    • Oh my gosh, Roy. Glad you didn’t get run into there. I can’t help but see the irony in the policeman first stating that YOU should assume no one pays attention to signs and then states a sign will go up to prevent further recurrances of this problem (I’m shaking my head in disbelief).

  3. Thanks for the heads up, Bonnie! I’ve seen said policeman or I should say police car many times. I’m pretty sure he just parks there while he goes to Sam Snead’s for lunch. 🙂

    • It was so weird. I wasn’t exagerating about the number of cars that ran the red light.

  4. Great post Bonnie! Advertising is known for these types of guffaws. Driving through Pennslyvania once, I saw a double billboard – the first billboard talked about the issue of childhood obesity, the one right next to it was a McDonald’s billboard with an idyllic child holding up a happy meal.

    • Thanks, Tor. I think I am too easily amused at this stuff – like the signs you reference, one hand doesn’t know what the other is doing.


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