We all know the saying: “If you can’t beat them, join them.” I thought long and hard about this saying the other night on the way home.
I was pulled over by a metro cop on a quiet street in suburbia because – so he alleged – I didn’t stop dead at a stop sign.
Now, without admitting or denying anything, I must say that from my perspective, stopping dead is a matter which is open to interpretation.
But there I was, sitting nervously in my car with the officer leaning on the door frame.
What followed was quite an interrogation. His first question: “Why didn’t you stop at the sign?”
That’s an impossible one to answer. If I give a reason, I’m admitting guilt. I can’t deny the existence of the stop sign, either. So, while I’m preparing an answer in my head which I know will end up with me painting myself in a corner, I get a reprieve.
The officer starts talking. It must have been rhetorical, the question. And he follows it up with another one. Do I know what the punishment is for not stopping at a stop sign? Well, now I do, but then I didn’t. And before I can take a wild, yet calculated, guess, he gives me the answer: R1 000.
It was like a punch in the stomach. Actually, more like a kick to a lower part of my anatomy, but this is a family newspaper.
That’s a lot of money to cough up for one alleged indiscretion.
Instead of filling out the form, the officer continues. He is definitely a wise man, as he knows R1 000 is a lot of money. And he also is quite a humanitarian, telling me that there are other ways to resolve the issue which could be beneficial to both of us.
That’s when I started my long and hard thinking. And that’s when I came up with the answer. Not to his questions, but to the issue of bribing traffic officers.
Instead of fighting it, we should encourage it. Why can’t the authorities pay traffic officers commission on their fines? It will inevitably lead to much stricter traffic policing and much safer roads while eliminating the need for soliciting bribes.
By the way, my fine was only R500 because I got discount for paying it within 30 days.