by Julia Buckley
The driver began moving, nearly colliding with the officer, and naturally the officer looked displeased. The driver kept moving, oblivious, because she was TEXTING. All of this I witnessed, including the fact that the police officer tried to get a look at the license plate before the car disappeared.
A few blocks later, I looked in my rearview mirror and saw flashing red and blue lights. It took me a moment to realize that I was being pulled over; this hadn't happened since I was in my twenties and was detained for a non-working brake light.
I pulled to the side and opened my window, curious, trying to figure out what law I had broken (I tend to drive, if anything, too slowly).
The woman who appeared at my window was the officer who had almost been hit. "Hello, Officer," I said.
"Hello. May I see your license and proof of insurance, please?"
I wanted to make sure I followed protocol. "My license is in the back seat. May I reach back there for it?" I asked.
"Sure." She didn't tell me why she'd pulled me over, which had me nervous. I reached into the back and found that, when I had tossed my things into the back seat and slammed the door, I had caught the handle of my purse in it. I tugged away, my face growing red, trying to get that darn driver's license. I thought the officer smiled a little.
When I finally managed to provide it, as well as my insurance card, she looked at them and asked, "And do you have your cell phone with you?"
"No. I don't have a cell phone," I said. This is the truth; I am one of the last of the phone-free people.
She nodded. "Okay, it's not you, then. Someone almost hit me a few blocks back, she had a blue minivan and the first three license numbers were the same as yours."
"I saw her," I said. "I was right behind her."
She returned my things and told me to have a good day, then returned to her car, made a U-turn, and sped away. And I really hope she caught that careless driver.
When my son and his friend were struck by a car two years ago, the woman at the wheel was texting. She had no driver's license with her and no insurance, and, according to some student witnesses, even tried to drive away while the boys still sat dazed in the street (one of the students chased her down--he is now in the military, and America is lucky to have him).
One of my greatest regrets is that I did not attend her traffic court hearing; my younger son was sick with a fever, and I counted on the fact that the family of the other boy would attend and fill me in on the results--except that they didn't go, either, since there was a terrible blizzard that day.
My son and his friend, miraculously, had walked away with only scrapes and bruises, and one lost shoe. I called the courthouse months later and found that the woman had been given a 200-dollar fine, which she did not pay. She still had her license, although they were considering taking that away from her.
It infuriates me when people text and drive, but I am grateful for diligent police officers and watchful young people who try to do the right thing in bad situations.