Columbus traffic enforcement

Published 1:53 pm Sunday, March 10, 2013

To the editor:

Kudos to David and Brenda Searcy for speaking out about traffic law enforcement in Columbus. (TDB, Feb. 28) It needs to be said.

Last February, I was stopped – and fined – for “running a stop sign.” The facts are that I was approaching the four-way stop at the corner of Walker and Peniel in Columbus (at the Presbyterian church). It was 30 minutes before dusk and visibility was good. I was in my new Prius and still driving at a snail’s pace to see how many mph I could get. I crept toward the intersection, looked in every direction, saw nothing, applied some brake anyway and eased deliberately onto Peniel. Saving gas! If my wheels didn’t completely stop turning, they were moving at a rate a squirrel could have avoided.

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So when I saw the police car behind the forsythia bush at the entrance to the church parking lot, I was not concerned, because it didn’t occur to me that I had committed any infraction. It occurred to the occupant of the police car that I had however, and I was pulled over and ticketed. I protested the ticket politely, suggesting that my “failure to stop” was the equivalent of going 46 in a 45 mph zone. Picayune!

I wrote a letter describing the facts above and hand-delivered a copy to Chief Beddingfield’s office and to Magistrate Pittman. I never heard from Chief Beddingfield.

I did discuss it with Mr. Pittman who shook his head and said he was driving a new Prius too and understood how it affected your driving style. There was nothing he could do however, which I understood.

I was naturally huffed up for a couple of weeks and shared the story with several friends. Surprisingly, more than once I heard, “Well let me tell you about what happened to me (or someone they knew)!” It didn’t do much to calm me, but it did open my eyes. I hope the Searcy’s appearance before the council will open others.

– Ben Romine, Tryon