I must confess I have divided loyalties.
I've been a community journalist (or reporter, sports guy, camera guy whichever you prefer) for over 23 years here at The Reporter and The Democrat, with a couple other stops at papers in the area along the way. I also did a couple of stints in the radio news field.
Along the way, I've also done a stint as a sound technician, living out of a truck for a summer traveling all through the Midwest, putting up sound systems at fairs and celebrations, running sound for various entertainers, shows and events. And, I also spent some time, a few years, to be exact, as a public safety communications operator ie, dispatcher, for Palo Alto County in the 1970's and 1980's and a year as a Communications Center Specialist for the Iowa Department of Public Safety in Storm Lake.
Working alongside the law enforcement community, a communications operator obviously becomes very familiar with the jargon and terminology of the job and along the way, you also talk and interact with the public in all kinds of situations when they call for help or for information. During my years as an operator, I also had numerous opportunities to hop in a patrol car with various officers, riding the roads, seeing what they see during a tour of duty. It was very educational for an operator to understand what officers needed and expected in the field, and in turn, officers also had a chance to sit behind the radio console, learning what life was like behind the microphone for the operator.
Working for the Department of Public Safety, I had opportunities to ride with State Troopers around the Storm Lake and Sioux City areas as well in our local area, and the one thing that I always found entertaining when riding with troopers, for lack of a better word, were the excuses that drivers would give a trooper when they were pulled over for a speeding violation.
A while back, I came across this piece, "The Top 10 Excuses Heard By Troopers" and it brought a lot of those memories back. Just to show you that times don't really change, I can tell you that in the following list, I know I heard over half of these excuses back in 1988 and 1989 for sure
The Top 10 Excuses Heard By Troopers
1. "I have to use the bathroom!"
2. "My speedometer said I was going the speed limit."
3. "I wasn't paying attention."
4. "I'm running late for an appointment."
5. "I'm just going with the flow of traffic."
6. "I just got new tires on my vehicle."
7. "My cruise was set."
8. "I was going down a hill."
9. "I didn't see a speed limit sign."
10. "I'm trying to get my kids to a sporting event/the doctor."
Of course, while riding along, I heard some others, and a couple were legitimate such as the fellow that got pulled over one night south of Storm Lake doing 85 in a 55-mile an hour zone. The officer walked up to the drivers window and after a quick look in the window, hustled back to the squad car, and pulled in front of the violator, leading him to Storm Lake, with lights and siren to the hospital emergency room, where his very pregnant wife was hustled into the delivery room and gave birth to the couple's first child about 10 minutes after arriving. No ticket but a verbal warning and a handshake of congratulations to the new father.
Another involved a motorist who had been summoned to a hospital for a critically ill family member. He was allowed to proceed with a strong warning.
But the young lady who had to get to her nail appointment, that didn't fly. Neither did the teenagers trying to beat curfew back home. They also had to explain that speeding ticket as well as why they were late getting home.
To tell the truth, I've used a couple of these excuses, or ones very similar over the years, and I'm sure just about everyone has. They are pretty much timeless and when you objectively think about them, none of them really are a good excuse for violating the law.
With the upcoming July Fourth holiday, perhaps this can serve as a little reminder that no matter what you feel could be a good excuse, there really is no excuse to violate traffic laws. The consequences are not only stiff, financially, but the long-term consequences could be priceless and truly life changing.