Hello again from Municipal Court. Today, I’d like to address the issue of responsibility.
We’ve all had a bad day when nothing went right, and then, you get stopped by a police officer for a traffic violation. Just when you’d finally worked out issues in your mind as to what you need to do or say when you get to your destination. You are finally able to put away your cell phone and get back to the police officer patiently standing at your window, waiting for you to roll it down. You get angry at this inconvenient situation. It is a natural, human reaction. But what do you do with that anger? One lady yelled at the officer for stopping her for running a stop sign. She was irate that he wasn’t out there chasing speeders who were “all over town”. Another time, a man was stopped for speeding 40 MPH in a posted 25 MPH zone in a residential neighborhood. He didn’t think he was going that fast, despite being locked into the radar gun at 40 MPH.
Just imagine if a distracted driver runs a stop sign at the same intersection where another vehicle who has the Right-of-Way, enters into the intersection. What if the distracted driver fails to notice the helmeted bicyclist who is travelling along with her toddlers being towed in a kiddie carrier. How many times have you seen that scenario? Stop signs are for vehicles and bicyclist as well. Just how much protection will those children get? If the bicyclist encounters the distracted driver, it’s not going to end well.
What I’m driving at is this: if you get stopped for violating motor vehicle laws – and they do apply to bicycles as well – if angry, direct that anger where it belongs, at yourself for not keeping your mind on your driving. Even a Mini Cooper is a lethal weapon when not used safely. If you are riding a bike, it doesn’t matter who had the Right-of-Way. Your helmet is a good start, but from the neck down, you are totally vulnerable.
If your children are with you, no matter their ages, if you set the example of blaming everyone else except yourself, that’s the lesson they will take away with them. It’s not the officer who chose to ignore the traffic signs, or Public Works’ fault for having placed that “stupid” sign there to inconvenience people. It’s not the fault of the Clerk at City Hall who receives your payment of fines. She has no idea what you did. Yelling at her might make you feel better, but you’ve just taken out your rage on a totally innocent person. Just remember the laws are designed for public safety- for everyone. If you truly believe a given law is wrong, discuss the issues before your City Council.
Enjoy this lovely community, but please keep your attention on what you are doing. And when an Oops occurs, try to deal with your feelings appropriately. Take it as a Wake-Up call, and a blessing that you are able to walk away from it. Promise yourself to do better and set a good example for your kids. Stay safe, you are precious to someone.
Sue Mick, Salida Municipal Court Clerk