Speed Demons: How Fast Before Blue Lights Flash?

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 20, 2012

There’s a traffic ticket in his future. My 21-year-old stoutly defended his speeding on I-35 in Oklahoma over the weekend by explaining he was merely going with the flow. The 70 mph speed limit sign was merely a suggestion. Situational speeding is okay in Oklahoma.
Oh? He has not confirmed his legal theory with the Oklahoma highway patrol. We effete Easterners still cling to the ancient philosophy that the law means what it says — that speeding is speeding and anyone crossing the magic line is putting his wallet and insurance rating at risk and in the whimsical clutches of a patrolman with a radar gun.
What merits a ticket? Is it 71 mph in a 70 zone? Maybe not. What about 76 or 80? What triggers the blue lights and siren?
Now that I have reached geezer-hood, my driving annoys my college boy.
His reckless habits scared me white-knuckled as I grabbed the door handle while we whipsawed through traffic.
Oklahomans drive fast, and my son has quickly adapted to the ways of the American heartland.
Oddly, my young Libertarian stiffly follows the seatbelt law. No allowance for slackers there. The State of Oklahoma has a vested interest in keeping drivers alive lest their graves unnecessarily block oil drilling. Derricks were pumping over the weekend.
Defying the seatbelt law in North Carolina can pack a whopping penalty of $160 including cost of court. Raleigh legislators these days don’t raise taxes. They raise fees, and the “cost of court” has soared to punitive levels. I know this from personal investigation.
We traded seats in the car during the visit. I took the steering wheel in Norman, OK, and immediately generated a gush of criticism from my navigator: Too slow, Dad. You’re only going 60. It’s a speed bump, not a stop bump. Turn signal. Where’s the turn signal? You just ran a stop sign!
Indeed, I had. Even slow-going seniors can run afoul of the law.

Song writer Oscar Hammerstein II had it right when he penned, “Oooooo-klahoma, where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain …”
This is the sweepin’ season. The wind was blowing 20 mph when we got there Saturday morning and 20 mph when we left Monday. The speed varied from 15 to 25 day and night, but there was always wind enough to sing about.

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