I’m from Illinois, where speed cameras have been destroyed in court as illegitimate, and red light tickets have all been voided due to some serious corruption by the administration that had shortened yellow lights to make more revenue. For real. So it had not occurred to me that other states might not have discovered the major problems with these methods of entrapping motorists. Every summer I travel extensively on homeschool trips or family visits. I started out this summer in Washington, D.C., to attend a conference and visit my sister. I had to travel twenty minutes each day to the conference and back. Being unfamiliar with the roads, I was careful to check for speed limit signs (of which there were few). My strategy if I don’t know the speed limit has always been to keep up with the traffic around me until I see a sign. This was apparently the wrong strategy.
Weeks after my visit, I got this ominous text from my sister.
Speed cameras. Not only was I not warned of this (by my sister, which is another issue that requires some serious payback), but there were no signs indicating that the cameras exist. In Illinois, all red light cameras were labeled clearly (before they were deemed void), giving you the opportunity to be very careful in those intersections so that you don’t roll through a right turn or a crosswalk. But the super secret speed cameras in D.C. are hidden, along with the speed limit signs. I was supposedly going 60 in a 30. I do not drive like a maniac. A 30 mph zone is usually a residential zone. I did not drive on any residential streets on my commute. In fact, the road that was the 30 mph road was a three-lane highway. A person unfamiliar with the speed limits would never guess the speed limit was under 50.
Keeping up with traffic in the Maryland/D.C. area is an exercise in terror and skill. It’s the only place in the entire United States where I’ve ever seen signs that say “Beware of aggressive drivers” as soon as you cross the Maryland state line. I often wonder why I have to watch out for them? Shouldn’t police be watching out for them? If you know you have a problem with aggressive drivers, shouldn’t they be ticketed until they stop? But instead, they tell the rest of us to watch out for them. And true to the warning, you will be run off the road in Maryland and D.C. unless you keep up. And don’t even think about keeping a car length or more between you and the car in front of you or you will be cut off incessantly until you narrow that gap.
I’ve driven enough there to know that one’s driving style must adjust to keep from being seriously injured or killed. And so I kept up and it cost me $150. Or so I thought.
Ten minutes after the news had sunk in that I have to pay $150 to the District of Columbia for the privilege of trying not to get killed, I received another text.
Look at the size of that road!!! 30 mph? This is clearly a revenue generator.
Two tickets in one day isn’t even the worst news. I drove that road twice a day for three days doing about the same speed and then I found out that my sister has an unopened pile of mail on her desk that looks like this:
I’m trying to come up with an argument for why she’s also culpable for not informing me of this possibility. I think I have a good case.
In conclusion: watch out, vacationers! Don’t trust family members to warn you of expensive hazards, and if you’re driving in Maryland or D.C., just take the bus.