Gotta love Waze — the free Google app that tells drivers how to get from point A to point B faster and without a speeding ticket.
On Thursday, Waze told me something I hadn’t heard before. I was in New Rochelle, a city with oodles of red light cameras that take pictures of license plates caught in traffic intersections at the wrong time. The “Queen City,” as New Rochelle is known, reaps $40,000 per month from this.
The Waze lady was way ahead of Her greedy Majesty in my case: “Red light camera ahead,” she announced about 100 yards from the light.
I now have a crush on her, though I had no intention of running the intersection.
With Waze on the road, it’s now advantage driver, unless you report things on the app while your car is moving. That’s a giant reversal from a few years back when the “po-po” had the edge.
When I was younger, Fuzzbusters were the rage, giving drivers the advantage for the first time. The portable radar detectors alerted drivers to speed traps — until the devices were outlawed, at least in New York.
Which leaves the Empire State with a legal peculiarity: Radar detectors are illegal; Waze is not.
Speed enforcement has always been an odd duck. It’s the one area of criminal justice, save jaywalking in New York City, where virtually everyone, everywhere breaks the law — all the time. The police know it. We know they know it. They know we know they know it, and they know we know they know we know it. So it boils down to cat and mouse. Catch us if you can.
Oddly, as this game plays out daily, government could nail us for speeding every time, at least on toll roads. Get from toll A to toll B faster (or slower) than you’re supposed to and you’re busted. The E-ZPass system can measure time. But no state is using it that way — yet.
Even when we’re caught speeding the rules are weird. We show up in court and plead “not guilty” to something we’re clearly guilty of — there’s scientific evidence we were speeding — and the court preposterously charges us with something we didn’t do; a parking violation for example. We plead guilty to a make-believe infraction to pay a fine smaller than we would have paid for speeding.
Everyone keeps a straight face during this process: the judge; the prosecutor; the arresting officer; the stenographer and, most of all, Speed Racer. But this is the best part: All parties in the courtroom conspire to prevent the insurance companies from knowing just how fast we were really going so they don’t raise our premiums.
There should be a room in the back where we all have a good laugh at their expense.
On my desk gathering dust are two tickets I’ve been debating what to do with. The first is a speeding ticket. It has a “not-guilty” box on the back of it that I should check off. But I’m guilty as sin — you try driving slowly to Led Zeppelin’s “Black Dog” on a summer day — so there’s that.
The second is a parking ticket for which I have photographic proof of innocence. But as the sirs and madams at the Village of Bronxville court have made clear, presenting said evidence would require taking a half day off work.
What to do, what to do — other than power up Waze and wait for driverless cars.
William F. B. O’Reilly is a consultant for Republicans.