I like to think I’ve outgrown my days of heavy road rage, but every time I brag to my sisters, Julie and Nana, that I haven’t had a ticket in 3 1/2 years, they laugh and say, “That’s just because you haven’t got caught.”
Kind of like one of those “What came first, the chicken or the egg?” questions.
Was I really a crazy woman driver or was I just always at the wrong place at the wrong time, like, say for instance, Hobbs “Speed Trap,” New Mexico, where I was averaging one speeding ticket every six months?
Strange. Once I moved away from Hobbs in 2000, I stopped getting traffic tickets.
Incredible coincidence or just plain luck?
You be the judge!
Even stranger, during those years I lived in Hobbs, tickets also followed me across state lines. It’s like the Hobbs police had connections with police in other cities, issuing Crazy Woman Driver Alerts. “Mayday, mayday, red Ford ZX2 headed your way, crazy woman driver blasting that loud Tejano music. Set up roadblock. She doesn’t know how to talk her way out of a ticket. Easy target! Over!”
When I moved to Texas in 2000, I’d slam on my brakes every time I spotted a Texas Ranger, but when I’d see those flashing red lights in the rearview mirror, they were pulling over huge 18-wheelers, pickup trucks or SUVs.
I will admit I had my racy days during my mid-20s and early 30s, driving around corners on two wheels, something Julie still accuses me of doing, but I invoke the Fifth on that. Just because passengers in my car constantly exclaim, “Weow!” and hold on to door handles doesn’t mean I’m a crazy woman driver.
I blame part of my tickets on my vocation. As a reporter, I was always rushing to cover breaking news or other emergencies, like buying my daughter a Dr Pepper late at night.
My traffic ticket history would fill up a folder, but I’m happy to say I’ve never had a DWI or serious offense. I don’t drink and drive. Heck, I’ve had enough trouble in my life just driving sober. When someone screams, “Who taught you to drive?” I have to stop and think and then reply with honesty, “Nobody!”
Some people tried to teach me to drive but gave up, including Uncle Paul. We took his big, long, blue-and-white car for a spin in the country but he gave up when I drove his car into a ditch.
Dad didn’t have the patience to teach me to drive a stick shift and I flunked my first driving test. I finally passed my second driving test at age 17, using a pillow to reach the gas pedal. I think the driving instructor just wanted to get out of the car.
I’ve certainly slowed down over the years, in part, because I got tired of overpaying on car insurance. But after about a dozen tickets, you learn a little speed ticket etiquette.
I used to always have an attitude until someone told me the police would let you go if you were nice. So I tried the “Yes sir, no sir,” thing.
That didn’t help. I’m now convinced that during those long seconds when a cop walks to your vehicle, he or she has already decided whether or not to issue a citation.
But after years of experience, there is one thing I’ve learned about the best way to get out of a speeding ticket:
Helena Rodriguez is a staff writer for Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico. She can be reached at