Alex Roy’s Rules of Professional Speeding, Part 4
Pro Tip: Don’t use off-brand contraceptives.
The majority of articles about speeding are worthless. The basic advice is to get a radar detector. The rest is about what to do after you’re caught. That’s like asking your not-quite-as-dumb-as-you-are cousin for help after your off-brand condom broke and your girlfriend got knocked up. We’re going to address how to use radar detectors at a later date, because before you learn that art—and it is an art—you’ve got to get your behavior in check and understand how cops perceive you before you’re pulled over.
Speed Enforcement Is a Cancer. Treat It Like One.
Let’s suppose you were going blind—Oh, is that example offensive to you? How about cancer? My father died of cancer. I loved my dad. That’s him, below, as a young man with his fourth car. I miss him more every day. Before he died, he signed a bunch of undated letters stating that the reason his son was speeding was to go see his dying father before it was too late. I used three before he died, and two after. So, let’s suppose you’re diagnosed with cancer. What do you do? Read everything. Get a second opinion. Before you decide which expert advice to go with, you want to know that the “expert” you’re going to actually is an expert. Because you don’t want cancer. (Pro tip: Don’t smoke.)
“Why are we listening to this schmuck?” you ask.
This is my favorite question. Of course, I’m the schmuck. Why would anyone listen to me? Could it be because I know a thing or two about speeding? It’s not like I don’t slut myself out at every opportunity as an expert, if not the current Godfather of this silly and dangerous hobby.
I like to read, and I read quite a lot. I also like to know who has written what I read. It saves time. It helps one know what’s worth reading. If it’s about cars, my list is short and sweet. Cantle. Bowman. Harris. Baruth. The Master, LJK Setright. (DeMuro? Not so much.) When I see all but one of these names, I know I’m getting quality. Maybe even the truth, which is what I aspire to.
Anyone wise enough to click on a link to a story called “The Rules of Professional Speeding, Part X” probably cares about not getting caught. What it suggests about this particular commenter is that he doesn’t read much—at least not about speeding—because if he did, my Cannonball Run record is cited in the first sentence of the second frackin’ paragraph. Sadly, this also suggests he or she is more likely to go blind or die of cancer than you are. Actually, it would appear he already is blind, or partially so.
Speed enforcement is a cancer upon people who love driving. Treat it as such, and you will be a better driver. So, if you truly care about driving safely above the speed limit, here’s Parts One, Two & Three of my series on how to escape this societal epidemic?.
Now enjoy three more rules of professional speeding:
1. Be a winner: Get there.
Why do supercars exist? Because everyone wants to get laid. That reason, however, is not how such deals are made. Found, perhaps, but not made. For that, we have the arsenal of basic tools made available upon reaching drinking age. Heineken! Jack Daniels! Captain Morgan! We also have things like Mexicali Ditchweed (still illegal in most states) and Pablo’s Finest Yayo (which always will be). Do any of these work? I used to be firmly in the James Hunt school on this subject. I used to be just like him—minus the driving skill. I’m lucky to be alive. I’ve lived the life of a hundred men. Trust me, the good stuff might up your confidence, but it won’t up your skill in love, life or driving.
You know why that flannel-wearing guy with a beard and a rusting Tercel didn’t go home alone? I’ll tell you. Character. He was sober - or waited until he was sober enough - before he drove home with that girl who thought you were too wasted.
Here’s some pseudo-math anyone can understand:
Experience + Time = Skill
Skill + Application = Character
There are some things money can’t buy. Character, like taste, is free. Character wins. You know who doesn’t win? The guy who lost his license because of a DUI. The guy who can’t get a job because of felony drug possession. The guy who can’t drive himself to the orgy, or home, or to work.
You’ve been drinking? Don’t drive. I don’t care if your BAC is below the legal limit. Any level of alcohol in your system affects your ability to drive a car. But Aleeeex! How will I get home? Take a cab. Take an Uber, or the train. A bus, even. I know lots of guys who get laid and take buses. Wait. Walk. If you must drive—and trust me, you don’t—DON’T speed. You might even make it home. You still shouldn’t be driving. I’m not a Trump guy, but if you drink and drive even a little bit, just imagine Donald Trump tweeting that you’re a loser. Yeah, you. Because you are a loser if you get fucked up and drive.
You know who is always a winner? The guy who wins a race. Winning requires getting there in once piece. You, I, all of us, from the day we leap from the start line of puberty toward the finish line of adulthood, we are all in a race to develop the confidence and experience that builds skills and character. One doesn’t need to be Sebastian Vettel to be a great driver. One only needs to drive a car once or twice a day for fifty years without crashing. That’s pretty rare, but it is possible. Vettel gets a pass if he has an accident. That’s his job. You and I don’t. Driving is not our job. It’s how we get there. We don’t just need to get there ten or twelve times a year. We need to get there hundreds of times a year. Thrown in a decent social life and there is a place we must get to a thousand times a year. There eventually means the birth of your first child, a best friend’s wedding, or a loved one’s funeral. There is an idea, and a good one.
Seen Rush? We glamorize James Hunt. Hunt died at 45. Niki Lauda? The tee-totaling “uncool” one? Still alive. A millionaire many times over. Women. Sports cars. Private jets. Homes in Monaco and Necker Island.
Be a winner. Get there.
2. Sofa King Badass: Sunglasses & Tinted License Plate Covers
Have you listened to the amazing Corey Hart song that inspired a thousand Ray-Ban purchases? I did, over and over. That’s me at age 13, getting ready to go out. At night. Badass. Sofa King Bad. Ass. Or so I thought. It’s a good thing I wasn’t old enough to drive, because I would have driven straight into a ditch. It’s amazing Corey Hart isn’t in jail, because he’s probably responsible for more car accidents than the producers of the The Fast & The Furious.
There is one good thing about wearing sunglasses day OR night. If you’re pulled over for speeding, you can take them off. You don’t want to be wearing sunglasses when interacting with police. They like to see your eyes. What do sunglasses say to a police officer? 1) Your eyes are dilated, 2) you’re trying to hide something, 3) you’re an asshole, or 4) all of the above.
Take them off.
Herein lies the problem with tinted license plate covers. If you’re wearing one—or two, for double schmuckery—there’s no way to take them off once the flashing lights are in your rearview. Also, you can get ticketed even while parked. There’s only one time it’s worth getting ticketed while parked. You’re in LA and just broke the Cannonball Run record, or you just arrived at the hospital because your wife is giving birth, or your friend’s wife just gave birth and you found out you weren’t the father. For certain. This time.
Why do people wear tinted license plate covers? It’s hard to find real data on usage of tinted license plate covers. There are no tinted license plate cover trade groups or user forums. Why? Because everyone involved - from design to production to sales to the customers - is ashamed.
Who are these customers? There is a community of people who love things that are smoked. I’m not talking about people from Sweden or Norway. I’m talking about the guys who love smoked headlights and turn signal covers. Once you’ve got those, the license plate cover is icing on the cake. My car is so fucking stealth. Totally blacked out. STEALTH, baby.
Is it cool? Is it cool looking? Hells yeah, until you run into a ditch full of Corey Hart fans because no one could see your turn signal indicator.
Tinted lights, indicators and plate covers are illegal in most places, but even where they’re legal, you don’t want to wear them when you’re pulled over. They make it more likely you’ll be pulled over, like Fuck-Tha-Police T-shirts, the smell of pot, a shattered windshield and a bloody arm sticking out of your trunk. Those fake bloody arms that people stick on the back of their cars? Sheer lunacy.
3. Hot Chicks, Zoolander & How To Pick (and Place) Your Passengers
My father was a wise man. “If you see two women at a bar,” he’d say, “it’s a good thing. It’s a beautiful thing. Who knows what they’re talking about? Or whom? You? Each other? A third friend? Anything is possible. Be patient. Wait. You never know.” I’d nod. “But two guys?” He’d shake his head. “Always suspicious.”
Always be aware of how you appear to others. And not just you. You in the context of your company.
Let me tell you about what I miss the most from my Gumball 3000 days. I miss putting on those sweet knee-high RCMP-issue motorcycle boots which made no sense for driving my E39 BMW AutobahnPolizeiVerfolgungGeshutz M5. I miss turning on the sirens, strobes & red/blue flashers as I came up on unsuspecting Gallardos and Porsche Turbos. I miss the intimidation factor lent merely by the act of sitting in a police car, however fake. I completely understood the seductive sense of power and insight into others granted by the uniform, the badge, the belt and the authoritarian iconography.
As my Skip Barber instructor Rene Villeneuve once suggested, it’s best to use one’s knowledge for good, not evil. In the spirit of doing good, I tried to put myself in the mindset of a real police officer with a quota to fill.
A new world opened up to me.
I imagined myself as an undercover police officer disguised as a Gumballer in a fake police car. I would walk through the starting grid and inspect the Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Porsches, looking for oversized rims and cheap radar detectors...all the signs of someone profoundly unserious and almost certainly unsafe. I would match the cars to the faces in the drivers meeting. I would go to the opening night party and see who was getting wasted, and then...and then I realized how unfair this all was. So what if these guys were complete scumbags the night before a big drive? It’s none of my business. If I were a cop, such snooping would be illegal. Your regular state trooper doesn’t get to investigate a speeder prior to a traffic stop.
All he knows he learns in the moment.
I know lots of cops. Many are fans. Many are not fans. Some are friends. All are human. I’d put the dick/not-dick factor at approximately the same as the general population, which means there is a strong minority of dicks. We often mistake all cops as dicks because even the nice ones have a job to do, and that job is to write tickets.
Every time you’re pulled over, you’re gambling that you’ll be at the mercy of a nice one.
Whether or not you get a ticket - and what kind of ticket(s) you will receive - depends on an interaction that will likely take less than sixty seconds, including his walk to and from the cruiser to your car. The faster you were going, the less likely the cop wants to hear anything you have to say. In most cases a cop has already decided what’s going to happen before you hand him your license and registration. Maybe, just maybe, if you’ve followed every rule I’ve cited up until now, you might get off with a warning. Maybe.
But not if you pick the wrong passenger.
When a cop gets out of his car, he’s thinking three things: 1) Will I survive this traffic stop? 2) Have I met my quota? and 3) Is this person cool enough to get a free pass?
Even if you do everything perfectly, even if you’re innocent, your passenger(s) can blow it for you. Let’s suppose the next cop you meet got rejected at the bar last night. Is your passenger too good looking? Out of your league? Does your passenger look like young Jenna Jameson? You’re getting a ticket. Does your passenger look like you met less than an hour earlier? How about ten minutes earlier? You’re getting a ticket. Does your friend look like a drug dealer? If you don’t know, you’re probably OK. If you do know, and they do look like one, you should have put them in a cab. Too late for you. Do you have two friends? Put them both in the back. Say you’re the designated driver, even if no one has been drinking. It’ll make you look like a good friend, even if you’re an asshole. Does your friend like to talk a lot? Tell them to shut up. Friends who talk, friend who smile, friends who like to take pictures and Facebook and Tweet exciting things like traffic stops...all ticket magnets.
There’s only one passenger that’s ideal in every situation. It’s someone you’ve known a long, long time. A friend. A loved one. A family member. A spouse. Not a child. You want a similarly dressed adult whose facial expression and body language suggests trust and confidence. In themselves, and in you. The good cops can read this, and it reflects on you. Then, and only then, you have a chance.
My best advice? Bring an empty baby seat. It doesn’t matter if you have a baby. Just say you’re on the way home. And that you’re late. The sitter didn’t show. It always works for me.
This series will go on and on until my friends, readers and especially my brother Max stop getting tickets.
See you next week when we cover music, bumper stickers, rims, and the pets I couldn’t fit into this one.
Alex Roy is the author of theLiveDriveRepeat blog and Editor-at-Large forThe Drive.