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Bill Brown

A complicated man.

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I just completed defensive driving class last Saturday and it's time for my biennial reformation. I'm hoping I can make it stick this time because tickets are such a waste of time. They're like a tax on the impatient. And I hate taxes.

But first, I suppose I should confess to my sins in this regard. My speeding has gotten worse since my earlier mention, and I've added an element of daredevilishness to it as well. At the time of that earlier entry, I was driving a 1999 Toyota Camry but I was driving it like I drove my Ford Mustang. Now that I have my MINI Cooper I finally have the combination of speed and maneuverability that fully released my inner speed demons.

I speed excessively: I've gone over 100 MPH so many times that it's stopped being special and I've gotten my car up to 121 MPH on I-17 at night. I change lanes aggressively in an effort to pass and I do so on all sides, across multiple lanes, and usually abruptly. I egg road ragers on. I speed on residential streets, I speed through school zones (but only when those signs are still up at 5 PM in defiance of the law). I've done moves that left me cackling uncontrollably afterwards with amazement that I made it through without a scratch.

I still don't think that speeding is inherently evil or that I was putting anyone's life in danger. I maintain tight control of my vehicle and always focus on driving as my primary activity when I'm in the car. I like to think of myself as a good driver who likes to get from Point A to Point B in as little time as possible. I also love the act of driving (especially with the MINI Cooper): a great car becomes an extension of your will and the grace of well-executed driving is beautiful.

Now I won't go more than 30 MPH in a residential area. On the freeway, I limit myself to 10 MPH over the posted speed limit. I make infrequent lane changes and I strive to drive defensively. I've stopped worrying about the time it takes to get places and just think to myself that I'll get there when I get there.

What brought about this sea change? Was it seeing all the fatal accidents in those insipid traffic school videos? Am I just trying not to get another ticket? Am I just a-scared of my wife, who disapproves of my need for speed?

I am sick of giving money to municipalities unduly, but I can afford the tickets and the higher insurance premiums. I certainly don't want to get in any accidents, but I had never really got into an accident prior to the ticket. My wife definitely complains about the risks I take, but I've been married 13 years and she's realized that that set of complaints has fallen on deaf ears.

In the end, I just don't see my life being better for being a speeder. As careful a driver as I am, I am one drunk driver away from being in a situation where my competence is irrelevant. I'm good at anticipating other drivers' actions but I'm not omniscient. I could not imagine leaving my family without me; I can't imagine ending that relationship prematurely.

Further, speeding is stressful. You're constantly looking out for policeman, calculating how to get around a wolf pack, and speeding up only to slow down. Constant speeds are so relaxing. And I've found that I might only save a few minutes by driving like I did. I've got enough things in my life to stress over, but driving isn't one of them. I'd much rather fret and expend mental effort on something important.

Given that rationale for my behavioral change, I think it's going to be a long time before I get my next ticket. This move just feels right and driving has become more pleasurable, not less, because I can focus exclusively on my handling. And when I do need to speed, it will be like when I use a curse word: exhilirating from its rarity.