Or, What Am I Doing Here, Officer?
This morning as I was driving east on Interstate 64 between Jefferson Ave and Mercury Blvd., I noticed a Virginia state patrolman’s car directly behind me. All traffic that I could see was moving steadily at or near the speed limit, so I held steady to my course and speed. I was a little surprised that the trooper’s car followed me when I turned at an exit about a mile down the highway – and immediately signaled me to pull over and stop. We both pulled over and the officer took my driver’s license and registration to his car. When he returned, and before he could speak, I handed him a note that I had written just before I left home – for just such an occasion. The note read:
June 12, 2019 – 8:30AM
To Whom It May Concern:
I am leaving home now to drive to The Hyman Mazda Dealership on Jefferson Avenue – to get my MX-5 Mazda convertible inspected.
Thank you – Bill Weaver”
To clarify the reason for the note: in Virginia, it is unlawful to drive a vehicle on a public highway – without a valid state inspection sticker displayed on the vehicle’s windshield – unless you are driving directly to a business which is certified to perform a state inspection. The officer read the note, glanced at me – and then looked my vehicle over – paying special attention to the state inspection sticker on the windshield.
“Sir”, the officer said, “you are not driving an MX-5 Mazda convertible; this is a Ford Escape SUV and the inspection sticker is valid through July, and BTW, why are you driving east when Jefferson Avenue is west of here.
“Oh”, I said, “I remember now; I turned around when I remembered that I wanted to drop off my pooch at the animal hospital on Armistead Ave., because I was planning to drive out of town for a few days after my vehicle was inspected.”
The officer looked over at my cat sitting in the passenger seat, and ask, “is that a dog?”
“No, sir, this is my cat named Pooch.”
“Oh”, said the officer.
The officer returned my driver’s license and registration, said, “have a good day, sir”, and started to walk away, when I asked:
“BTW, Officer, why did you stop me?”
“I completely forgot for a moment,” he replied; “you were impeding the normal flow of traffic.”
“But officer, I was driving the speed limit.”
“As the lead car driving in the left lane, you were preventing me and a mile-long string of other vehicles from passing the vehicles in the right lane which were moving under the speed limit. The left lane on a four-lane highway is primarily to allow faster-moving vehicles to pass vehicles in the right lane. This is the most efficient and safest use of a four-lane highway.”
“Officer, I have friends who say they regularly drive at the speed limit in the left lane – and will not move over for faster-moving vehicles. They contend they are doing the right thing by preventing other drivers from driving too fast. What should I tell l tell them?”
“Tell them to be prepared to explain their reasons for breaking the law to a judge – if they ever get caught for impeding the flow of traffic. The same goes for you if you get caught again”, he said as he handed me a warning ticket.