So, quickly I changed from the snappy suit into my normal shorts and t-shirt to clean the house for yet another showing. I may have mentioned before that we are trying to sell our condo right now, and are getting a lot of nibbles, but no bites. We had to do this with some haste as we were also headed out to Burlington, IA to see Kerry's (my wife) family. Kerry's dad is having some health issues, so she wanted to come home to spend some time with him, and I never mind the opportunity to get onto the outstanding Spirit Hollow golf course in Burlington (see www.beavergolf.blogspot.com for a review in a couple of days).
Off we went on what before kids was a 3.5 hour drive straight there, and now, with two kids has turned into a 4+ hour slow march full of stops and starts. After taking an hour to get out of "Chicagoland", and stops in Naperville and DeKalb, we were on our way, kids quiet, and making up time. About 5 miles before we got to the junction of I-88 and I-74, just east of the Quad Cities, the "debateable" began.
We were driving in the right lane behind one of the ubiquitous big rigs that frequent this stretch of road...the quickest way to most of Iowa from Chicago. I was driving the speed limit, 65 mph. Note that I drive a Toyota Prius, not one to be suspected of speeding too often. I was at least 75-100 feet behind the truck in front of me. The moment in question was when the truck began to move into the left lane at which point I noticed that stopped on the right shoulder up ahead were two police cars, lights flashing, with a surely unhappy civilian driver ahead of them. This is not an uncommon sight on any stretch of highway, and most definitely not this one. So, the truck changed almost all the way into the left lane, while I chose to slow down to under 60 and move to the left side of the right lane giving what I believe to be plenty of clearance to the officer's vehicles.
Immediately after passing the stopped cars, the "backup" vehicle tears off behind me, gets right up close and lights up the cherries. I was in shock...what in the world could I have done to be pulled over? The state trooper took his time, but finally ambled up to my window and told me his name, and asked if I knew why he was pulling me over. I replied with a sincere "no", so he proceeded to explain. Upon approaching the stopped vehicles, I did not switch lanes into the left lane of the two-lane highway. Was I aware that was a law in Illinois? He then asked me. Again, I replied with a sincere "no". He then asked if I saw the stopped vehicles, which I said I did once the truck ahead of me had moved aside. He confirmed what I had just said, then asked for license and registration and returned to his car.
After what felt like an eternity to us, and what was likely close to ten minutes in reality, he returned to my car, gave me back my license and registration, and proceeded to explain the pages of tickets in front of me. First, he explained that I was in violation of Scott's Law which says that when an emergency vehicle is present, other drivers must move into the adjacent lane leaving a full lane berth between the emergency vehicles and your own. If, it says, that such a maneuver would be unsafe due to traffic in the adjacent lane, you are to slow down and pass the stopped vehicles with care. He determined that it was not unsafe for me to have moved over, therefore I was in violation of the law despite the fact that I slowed my speed to pass with care.
A violation of Scott's Law comes with a MANDATORY court appearance, in this case in late July in Rock Island! C'mon! It is a good thing I don't have a job right now, or I would have to take a vacation day to make the midweek, 1 pm court appearance 2.5 hours from home. Why can't I mail this in? Why can't I go to court near my home? So suddenly, just like that, I am a scofflaw, not to be trusted to pay my fine, and learn in the future? Now, I am a hazard on the road?
And what of the motivation of those troopers? Were they serving and protecting? They weren't pulling over all the drivers going well over the posted limit ahead of me -- the same drivers who cause so much death and destruction every day. Nope, they were piggybacking down the road, on the lookout for Scott's Law violators, a method with an assured return on their time. Maybe this wasn't entrapment, but it was pretty darn close.
So, what do you think? Were you aware of Scott's Law? Am I overreacting? Was my punishment just? Penny for your thoughts...