By July 1, 2009

A Speeder’s Guide to Avoiding Tickets book review

Let’s not be coy. I own two motorcycles and a turbocharged station wagon (sorry … five door). The speed limit is more like a “speed suggestion,” and it’s a rare moment I’m following the black numbers on the white sign.

That being said, I’ve been pulled over and ticketed a fair amount throughout my motoring years. I have also developed a series of techniques for anticipating and avoiding speed traps. After being pulled over by a plain-looking Impala in 2002 I really started trying to spot unmarked police vehicles. Watching for traps and knowing the better ways to hide in a cluster of cars will only get you so far, and eventually I will have to pay my semi-regular “Speeding Tax.”

How you conduct yourself has a lot to do with receiving a citation or going home with just a warning. So says Sgt. James M. Eagan (retired) of the New York State Police. Sgt. Eagan was a trooper for more than twenty years, and his book “A Speeder’s Guide to Avoiding Tickets” is an attempt to educate the average driver on what to do, and what not to do, during a traffic stop.

The book is about 140 pages and was written in 1990. Granted, a lot has changed since then in speed detection technology and tactics (laser speed detection isn’t even mentioned), but the general traffic stop advice is timeless. Sgt. Eagan does a very good job at describing what goes on in the average officer’s mind during a pursuit. Traffic stops are unpredictable and dangerous for law enforcement officers. Understanding what they are concerned about and assuaging those concerns not only makes for a more pleasant and safe stop for everyone, but according to Eagan, may get you out of a ticket.

I recommend that new drivers in particular read this book. I already knew a lot of his recommendations: roll down your windows, turn on any interior lights at night, turn off your stereo, etc that new drivers may not be aware of. This information is readily available on the Internet (or by asking a friendly officer), but it’s nice having these suggestions in a small, easy to read book format.

There is a section “for the ladies.” I skipped over most of this section, but the suggestions I did read are pretty controversial. For example, Eagan suggests that women show a little cleavage and/or cry when pulled over by a law enforcement officer. This advice typifies the ethical quandary you may encounter while reading the book. Eagan says that these techniques work, so if you are really concerned about escaping a citation then undo that top button and start the waterworks. However, I feel that crosses a line for me, and I also wonder if what worked in the 90s will still work in 2009. Eagan also gives tips on how to relay that a friend or family member is a law enforcement officer, and how mentioning that you are affiliated with certain groups (clergy, emergency services, the medical field, the military) may help you out as well.

Overall, I think the book has some problems but if you concentrate on the “what to do as you are driving, and what to do if you get pulled over” sections are well worth reading. The book is less than $10, so it’s a cheap and easy read at the very least.


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