In Praise of Speed Traps

Letter to the Editor, Shepherdstown Chronicle

from Susan Grace Wisniewski, Shepherdstown WV

February 28, 2004

I was recently blessed with the great good fortune of being taken care of by Shepherdstown’s finest.  Initially, I must admit I was not receptive to the encounter.  However, now months later, I realize how good it feels to have someone else watching out for my best interest. I can’t say enough good things in praise of speed traps.

Have you entered a trance lately?

An under recognized phenomenon occurs each time each one of us automobile drivers get behind the wheel.  While hypntherapists may describe this phenomenon as “entering a trance”, it can also be described as “highway hypnosis” or as being in an “unconscious mode.”

Trance can be defined as “complete mental absorption” or as a “half-conscious state.”  I am not suggesting that any of our experienced drivers drive unconsciously, more to the point; that we go into “automatic pilot” mode. We’ve all had the experience of driving down the road apiece and then realizing that we don’t recall how we got so far down the road.

Multi-tasking while driving…stop thinking!

Our thoughts, always beckoning for our attention, sometimes get the upper hand, so that we aren’t focused so much on the task at hand as we are on our thoughts.  The human mind, rarely at rest, is one of the best multi-taskers on the planet.  We’ve all gone over our grocery list in our mind as we drive to the grocery store.  Adding passengers to the ride, only enhances the opportunities for multi-tasking.

I won’t even open Pandora’s Box to mention what happens when we are busy conversing on our little hand helds across the airwaves.  Suffice it to say, that the ‘single focused mind while driving’ may be as extinct as the dinosaurs.

We all lose focus…while driving

Nothing short of miraculous, it takes as little as two seconds for the mind to lose focus on the task at hand, and to go off following the stray thoughts where they lead us.  I have recent personal proof of this occurring.  While driving, stop signs, stop lights and brake lights are attention getters and serve to reel us back into focusing on the task at hand, driving.

Flashing lights to the rescuein praise of speed traps; flashing police lights remind us to be safe

None were more amazed than me, when flashing lights in my rear view signaled the end of unconscious driving for me.  I am so grateful that I didn’t even notice Shepherdstown’s newest speed trap nestled in the Bavarian Inn’s driveway, obscured from oncoming drivers view by all the “construction zone” equipment and piles of dirt.

None were more astounded than I to realize that I could accelerate to 14 mph over the speed limit in the two seconds of driving time since turning left from Shepherd Grade Road onto Duke St.  It is still possible that my Toyota thinks 25 mph is the equivalent to 0 mph, but the results from those tests are not yet in.

the best time to make a new friend is not always the first time you meet them…

Needless to say, my disappointment in the moment interfered with my being able to be receptive to the kind officer’s attempt at small talk after he handed me the two-hundred-and-forty-dollar ticket.   I know these hard-working officers may not realize the level of disappointment that is felt by their detainees.  Those moments would be better described as “the less said the better”. However, the best time to make a new friend is not always the first time you meet them.  A cooling off period might be wise.

I just want to assure these officers of the law, that we fully appreciate them doing their job, it’s just difficult to express this fully in certain moments.

Gratitude abounds!

I am grateful for this expensive reminder to wake up while driving, I am grateful for the 30-day extension to pay off said chunk and I am grateful to the far thinking individual who had the foresight to invent speed traps, as it has totally changed my life.