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Trip To The Store Is A Reminder To Click It Or Ticket

The title above is the slogan for a public safety campaign encouraging people to make sure they buckle their seatbelts before driving or riding in automobiles. There is a reason for the law, and it is a good reason to have on the books.

As with many situations when we are stopped by law enforcers, some people become very angry with law enforcers when they get pulled over for speeding, a broken or not working tail light, or for a failure to be wearing a seatbelt violation. Some use the theory of, “gotta make their quota of monthly violation stops and tickets,” while some wonder why law enforcers can’t do something other than “harass” good citizens who pay their salaries.

Recently, I had to run to the store and as I left my house, I turned up a street I usually travel to get to the store I was driving to that day. As I drove up this road, a black cat crossed my path, making me comment to myself something along the lines of, “I wonder what’s coming next.” It didn’t take long to find out.

When I reached the intersection at the first stop sign I encountered, and where I usually take a right turn when I go to this particular store, I decided to go straight and try and get there a bit quicker. At the next block, I yielded to a State Trooper, and then proceeded down to the next intersection, but before I got there, I saw flashing lights from behind approaching my vehicle. I pulled over, an officer got out, approached my car, and told me I was being stopped because of my failure to be wearing my seatbelt.

He took my license and registration and came back with a summons for me to send to the city of Jamestown by the date indicated on the citation. He told me to drive safely, I thanked him, and we parted ways.

As soon as he was out of my sight, I got angry. I said some words that might have earned a mouthwash of hand soap when I was younger. I was really angry, but it wasn’t the officer who was doing his job with whom I was angry. I was angry with myself. I was angry that I didn’t “click it.” I was angry that I didn’t follow the law, and I was ashamed of myself, for violating the law when my own son is, himself, a law enforcer and I should have known better.

When I got home, I called Jon, just to review the summons I got and make sure I understood the procedure I needed to follow, and to ask if this might affect my insurance or warrant a suspension of my license. Being that he lives in Virginia, he told me what the procedure is in his part of the country, and while we were on the phone, he checked the NY State regulations and let me know what he found out about this violation in the Empire State. Before we said good-bye, he proceeded to ask me why I was driving without my seatbelt on, something I reminded him of not doing many times after he got his driver’s license and began his driving career.

When I drive Sally’s car, I always wear my seatbelt because her car is newer than mine and constantly “dings” if you are not wearing your seatbelt. Come November of this year, my car will be celebrating her 20th birthday, and if the driver is not wearing his/her seatbelt, a light comes on but doesn’t constantly “ding remind” you to put on the belt.

Please don’t get me wrong, I am not making excuses. I got in my car and drove without wearing my seatbelt. I made the decision, conscious or not (again, making no excuse), to not follow the law. I was wrong, and have only myself to blame for this happening. I appreciate the officer doing his job and earning his pay by upholding the law, and if I want to be angry with someone, it has to be with the guy looking back at me in the mirror each morning.

So recapping my story, if you’re superstitious, you can believe in the curse of the black cat, or if because I took a different route to that store, one I very rarely take, rather than the one I take most often, you can believe in Felix Unger’s theory of “La Forza del Destino.” (The Power of Fate) from the Giuseppe Verdi opera of the same name. Bottom line though, like it or not, it comes down to just plain “Click it or Ticket.” Take a lesson from my irresponsibility.

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