Run Silent, Run Deep, Dude

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Recently by Eric Peters: Life in the Far Left Lane      

Most speed traps involve a stationary patrol car and a radar gun. And radar can’t single out a particular car in a pack of fast-moving vehicles. It’s up to the cop to choose which vehicle he’s going to go after. Nine times out of ten, it isn’t going to be the off-white minivan to your left or the silver pick-up on your right. It’s gonna be you, amigo – if you’re the pilot of a cherry red Mustang GT or glistening black Cadillac Escalade with chromed to the max 20-inch ree-uhms.

It’s not fair, but it is reality.

Visibility is key.

The more you avoid being noticed, the less likely you are to get a ticket. Even if you are “speeding.”

Not only are you more likely to be pulled over if you’re driving a high-visibility car, you’re also more likely to feel the full extent of the law as well. The dude doing 64 in a 55 in his Mrs. Doubtfire-looking Camry stands a decent chance of getting off with just a warning. Or getting the cop to knock it down to 60. But the young kid in the wasp yellow EVO with a three-foot wing on the trunk doing exactly the same thing can expect to be written up for every single MPH the cop can throw at him – with maybe a seatbelt violation tossed in for good measure.

Again, it ain’t fair – but it is reality.

The cop is going to assume you’re a Regular Violator – and use this opportunity to chew on you a bit. It’s not unlike the difference in treatment you know you’ll get if you apply for a loan dressed like Bob Marley vs. one of the suits from “Mad Men.”

Run silent, run deep.

Which means:

Avoid driving a car that looks like a street racer

Muscle cars, imports sport compacts with four-inch exhaust tips and 20-inch wheels. You see where I’m headed here. They draw the attention of cops like a Night Train sale at 7-11 draws derelicts. Some current muscle coupes can be ordered in low profile form. For example, on the Mustang GT, you can “delete option” the rear spoiler. Or just delete it yourself. Most unbolt in minutes and the truth is they serve no meaningful function on a street car anyhow.

Don’t add clear-lense tail lights, chromed-out ree-uhms and similar crap to your car, either. All that junk is just for show – and does nothing for go. If you’re smart and want to actually use your machine, advertising its capability (and your likely intent) is the last thing you should want to do.

Avoid bright colors

They make you more visible – especially when moving fast relative to surrounding traffic. Silvers, greys and dark greens help you fade into the pack. There is a reason why unmarked cop cars are typically painted one of those colors. It’s called camouflage. If you don’t get noticed – or don’t get noticed first – your chances of getting tagged with a ticket drop significantly.

Avoid coupes

This kind of sucks, but again, it’s reality.

Two-door cars get eyeballed more by cops, reflexively, because two-door cars project “sporty” – which to a cop means “speeder.” Coupes also tend to cost more to insure because (go to the head of the class) people who drive two-door cars tend to get more tickets than people who own four-door cars. Bottom line: Cops just don’t pay as much attention to a bland-colored, nothing-special-looking four door – even if happens to be a 150-mph capable four door, such as a BMW M5 or even a T6 Volvo.

One upside to Today vs. Yesterday is that you’ve got a lot of quiet-looking but extremely quick and capable machinery to choose from. Back in the Day (my day, the ’70s and ’80s) if you wanted something fast, you pretty much had to buy a two-door muscle coupe or other obvious hot rod guaranteed to draw the notice of every cop in town. Now, there are 365-hp Taurus SHOs and similar stuff that have 100-plus more hp than the Corvettes and 911s of the Reagan Years and which are much safer to actually use than a new 911 or Corvette. I’m telling you all this as someone who test drives a new car every week – all types – and I will tell you, from direct, personal experience, that you can get away with a lot more in a car that doesn’t look especially fast, or automatically draw the attention of cops, than one that does.

You may feel older driving a car with less obvious attitude – but you’ll be hassled less by the Man.

Of course, Clover would just say, “drive the speed limit and you’ll never get a ticket.” But if you’re reading this, you’re probably not a Clover!

Throw it in the Woods?

Reprinted with permission from EricPetersAutos.com.

Eric Peters [send him mail] is an automotive columnist and author of Automotive Atrocities and Road Hogs (2011). Visit his website.

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