Friday, February 19, 2010

Weymouth JournalWeymouth Journal

A man who was stopped for not wearing a seat belt discussed the matter with Sgt. Lee Savage, left, and Police Constable Graham Pinney on Thursday in Britain’s Dorset County.

The officers cautioned another Dorset driver against tailgating.
One after the other, the motorists were caught blatantly violating the law. One after the other, they tried to talk their way out of it with elaborate diversionary narratives.

Though he had been spotted exiting his driveway with no seat belt, the man in the Isuzu Trooper stated that he had unbuckled the belt just that instant, in preparation for entering a gas station. Though his cellphone registered an outgoing call, the man in the Mitsubishi L200 Animal claimed that he had merely answered the phone, almost as an afterthought, as he rounded a traffic circle. And the woman in the silver Vauxhall boldly asserted that she had left her BlackBerry at home and that anyone who observed her typing while driving was sorely mistaken.

Oops. “I’m sure your mum told you never to lie to a policeman,” said Sgt. Lee Savage, a traffic officer with the Dorset Police Department, casting doubt on her credibility by locating the BlackBerry — open to Facebook — on the passenger seat and fining her £60, about $90.

Special pleadings are not acceptable in the “No Excuse” initiative being run here in Dorset, a largely rural county on Britain’s south coast. The yearlong, $1.25 million project — a combination of advertising, education and increased police patrols — is an effort to reduce the number of accidents caused by driver inattention, a common problem across the car-driving world.

The New York Times - In Dorset County, inattentive drivers are being watched. 

violations include things like changing CDs, fiddling with the radio, folding maps, programming GPS navigation devices, dialing hands-free phones, looking for stray French fries in fast-food bags and steering with one’s elbows while pouring a cup of coffee.

I'd like to see that one: pouring coffee whilst steering with one's elbows.

The drivers caught that day tended to employ the “I shot the sheriff, but I did not shoot the deputy” defense, admitting only to part of the misdeed. Stopped for making a call while driving to his job as a window repairman, a man in a dusty Vauxhall tried to claim in mitigation that he had just bought his phone and had not yet had time to activate his plan to install a hands-free system. His assertion was undercut by the obvious elderliness and grubbiness of the phone.

It gets better.

Mr. Smith, the road safety manager, said that the campaign’s name was a homage to motorists’ endless litany of fruitless rationalizations. “I was out about a year ago and we stopped a lady who had three children in the back of the car,” he related. “The officer said, ‘Why aren’t these children belted in?’ and she said, ‘They’re not my children.’ ”

Or worse.

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