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.