Traffic Cop Tells All: How to Avoid Getting a Speeding Ticket (and Other Tips)

Okay, so the best way to avoid getting a speeding ticket is not to speed, but you knew that. What you really want to know is, how do you speed and not get a ticket?

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Okay, so the best way to avoid getting a speeding ticket is not to speed, but you knew that. What you really want to know is, how do you speed and not get a ticket?

One way: Go 189 m.p.h. That’s insane, of course, and you’d have to be to drive that fast anywhere not a speedway or the Bonneville Salt Flats, but according to former traffic cop Mike Brucks, that’s what it took for him to let a speeder go.

“I clocked a guy on a crotch-rocket bike doing 189 mph,” said Brucks in an interview with Popular Mechanics. “Just let him go. Since police departments began to get sued for chasing speeders, around 1995, there’s a fine line. You have to determine if you can catch him, if chasing him will cause an accident for him, for you, for the public. There’s no way to catch anyone like that.”

(MORE: Speeding into the Future: Self-Driving Cars Are Now Legal in California)

After working as a military traffic cop for six years, Brucks joined the El Paso Police Department where he dueled with speeders for 22 years from the back of Kawasakis and Harley-Davidsons before retiring last May. Over the course of his career, he says he issued nearly 40,000 tickets. Why motorcycles? Because they trump cars when it comes to catching speeders: You can accelerate faster, says Bruck, and they’re easier to navigate through traffic.

What were his favorite hiding places? Overpasses and bridges on freeways, but even then, he notes, location was everything: “If there are a lot of exits, I can miss [a speeder] who can maybe get off at an exit, and then it’s too late to catch him.”

A lot of people assume, rightly or wrongly, that the margin over the posted limit you can speed before a traffic cop’s going to bother is around 10 m.p.h. For Bruck, it was more like 20 m.p.h., at least in areas he says had “a lot of visibility,” though it sounds like anything exceeding 80 m.p.h. was cause for pursuit. “Above 75 mph things just happen so fast, [whether it's] a flat tire, a coyote, wind, dirt, or rocks,” he says. “It’s not that much better now that cars are safer; reaction times are still the same.”

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While talking your way out of a ticket is probably next to impossible, Bruck says someone speeding to get to a family member just sent to the hospital might do the trick. Also: if you’re tracking down your spouse, who’s having (or about to have) an affair.

“I clocked a woman coming down from New Mexico on Highway 54 at 111 mph,” says Bruck. “She had just been stopped for going 90 mph 15 minutes [earlier] in New Mexico … She had been crying, and the tears didn’t just start — they’d been going on a long time, you can tell. She was on her way to a motel in El Paso to catch her husband who was shacked up with another woman there, cheating. How do you write a ticket for that?”

(Incidentally, for those wondering what a “crotch-rocket” bike is, here you go.)