My dad didn’t ride but man, could he drive. Vern was a car salesman, and was constantly bringing home the latest Chevy (he wouldn’t sell anything else) as a demo: Caprice, El Camino, Monte Carlo, whatever. My personal fave was a ‘1978 Silver Anniversary Corvette L82. But even behind the wheel of that sweet, sleek rocket, Vern never once got a speeding ticket - crazy, because he was constantly pushing the limit. Like, always.
Once, when I was old enough to drive, I wrangled the nerve to ask him how he managed it. He smiled without making eye contact, and pointed to a Mustang barreling past us in the fast lane. “See that? Don’t be that guy,” he said. I wondered for a quiet moment if he was reiterating that I should never drive a Ford - which of course I knew - until he spoke up again. “Never, ever be the fastest guy on the road. Cops will nail you every time.” And damn, if we didn’t see that Mustang parked on the shoulder a mile or two up the road, its driver grumbling as an officer scribbled out a ticket.
“Never be the fastest guy on the road.” As fatherly advice goes, that’s pretty solid. For more tips on how to avoid a speeding ticket, keep reading.
#1 Find a Pace Car
I mentioned this tactic in a recent item about staying alert on long rides, and a version of it is effective in staying (literally) under the radar. Pick a vehicle that’s moving as fast or slightly faster than you’d like to be, and perch yourself behind it. Let that vehicle be the “rabbit” and attract a cop’s attention first.
#2 Stay Within A Pack
Even better than finding a solo vehicle to pace you, nestling yourself within a group of vehicles that’s traveling at about the same pace you’d like to ride is a perfect way to avoid drawing attention to yourself. If you’re in the front, you’ll be the target; if you’re in back, you’ll be the first guy the chasing officer pulls up behind. The middle is the sweet spot.
#3 Watch for Brake Lights
It’s obvious, but if a vehicle ahead of you suddenly hits the brakes, there’s a reason - whether it is an object in the road or the realization of a missed turn. Most likely, though, the driver has spotted a traffic cop or something’s pinged his radar detector. In any case, you want to be well behind that guy.
#4 Ride Safe & Sane
If you must go faster than normal, don’t be aggressive. Avoid passing on the right; don’t make quick or sudden lane changes; avoid bursts of extreme speed; don’t tailgate. Even if you don’t draw the attention of Johnny Law, you risk ticking off someone with a cell phone who can give the Highway Patrol a description of your bike and perhaps even your license plate number.