It’s the moment of truth. You’re driving along, maybe texting, maybe eating a Whopper, maybe speeding, when your car is bathed in revolving blue light and a siren disturbs the peace. You pull over, roll down the window, and wait for the trooper in mirrored shades to stroll up. What do you say when he asks for your license and registration?
Remarkably dumb things, if the Insurance.com Ticketmasters survey is to be believed. It has to be said that the concept of “ignorance of the law is no excuse" really hasn’t sunk in with the American people. Here are 10 dumb things that people say:
I couldn’t see the sign telling me not to do it. This was cited by 20.4 percent of the survey’s respondents. Can you imagine rules of the road that would let you off for not noticing posted traffic signs? Women are far more likely to invoke this one, 62 percent in the survey.
I’m lost and unfamiliar with the roads. I must admit to having used this one myself, in the hope of garnering sympathy as a befuddled foreigner in these parts. I think it might even have worked once or twice. It was cited by 15.6 percent in the poll, 65 percent of them women.
I didn’t know it was broken. I’m surprised that this was cited by 12.4 percent, who I imagine were stopped for defective lights — don’t people know they’re responsible for the maintenance of their vehicles? Of course this is cited mostly by women (61 percent). Men don’t want to admit they’re irresponsible in their auto maintenance.
Everyone else was doing it. The 6.4 percent who cited this must have never had their parents say, “If everybody else jumped off a cliff, would you go over it, too?” Finally, an excuse more popular with men (56 percent). Men are more likely to think that following the herd is a valid reason for doing something.
I’m having an emergency situation in my car. (For instance, spilled a hot drink on your lap.). Invoked by 5.4 percent. I can’t imagine this one winning hearts and minds. Maybe you shouldn’t be juggling a hot cup while you maneuver a two-ton vehicle? I might have thought this was female-dominant, because in my experience woman multi-task while driving more often, but no — 67 percent were men.
I missed my turn/exit. How could your inability to adequately follow directions get you off the hook? Still, 4.8 percent cited it, 54 percent of them men.
I had to go to the bathroom. And so you were speeding? I think that actually deserves a police escort. Cited by 4.6 percent, 65 percent of them women. Men are more stoic, I guess.
I didn’t do anything dangerous. Whoa, isn’t that for the cop to judge? It seems remarkably presumptuous as an excuse, but 4.2 percent, more than seven out of 10 men. It figures that men would think their own opinion would matter in this situation.
I was on my way to an emergency. (For example, to help someone who is ill or injured.). So you’re putting other people at risk? People only get away with this in action movies, where they inevitably cause dozens of accidents, upset fruit carts (how many times have you seen that) and drive on the sidewalk, scattering pedestrians, and nobody complains. Some 4 percent cited it, more than half of them men.
My GPS said it was the right thing to do. This is the only excuse that arises from our modern digital culture, so it has the advantage of not being worn out yet—only 2.2 percent cited it (a huge 88 percent of them men). I don’t know why women aren’t invoking this more, but give it time.
The unifying factor is that all of these excuses, with the possible exception of blaming the GPS, are well-worn. “By now, police officers can probably finish people’s sentences,” said Michelle Megna, managing editor of Insurance.com. “I wonder if they wouldn’t appreciate a little ‘dog-ate-my-homework’ creativity.”
Of course, if you run out of excuses, you can always try to run away, as tried by this hapless British motorist in a BBC "Traffic Cops" video. It doesn't work any better than the lame explanations:
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