A message to New Jersey drivers who slam the brakes when seeing a cop (Opinion)
It's an all-too-common occurrence on New Jersey's highways. You're driving along with the flow of traffic when suddenly the car ahead of you slams on its brakes.
At first, you may think maybe they saw something on the road. Or perhaps there was an animal on the side that looked like it was about to run across to the other side.
But no, it's not that at all. One of the cars that are ahead of you saw something coming up as they were driving. And it's something that made them very nervous.
What is it? It's a police car parked up ahead. Doesn't matter if it's parked in the center median, or off to the side, someone traveling ahead of you felt the need to slam on their brakes as if they're a criminal of some sort.
This happens a lot in New Jersey, and not just with cars driving on the higher side of the speed limit. Cars that are doing the speed limit still feel the need to slow down to ridiculous speeds, and they do it suddenly.
Sometimes the police car might be checking for speeders. Other times, it's for a completely different purpose. And yes, New Jersey does have a law on the books that requires you to slow down if there's emergency activity going on, but this particular action doesn't fit into this category.
Are you one of those people who does this when it's not an emergency or road work? If so, then here are a few messages just for you.
It's not an emergency
As stated above, New Jersey does require drivers to slow down for emergency activities. This could be due to an accident or someone getting pulled over. Or perhaps, there's construction being done. If you see flashing lights, then yes, pass with care and ease off the gas.
However, if you see a police car up ahead with its lights off and it's off to the side, then don't panic. All too often people slam on the brakes because they get this sudden fear of being pulled over. If you're not speeding or doing anything wrong, then maintain your speed. Just don't panic every time you see a cop car as it'll cause a chain reaction of brake-slamming for everyone behind you.
It causes more traffic
Speaking of that chain reaction, it'll result in more traffic. And we all know here in New Jersey we deal with enough traffic on a daily basis.
Please don't be the cause of disrupting the flow. Again, if you're doing nothing wrong, then don't slam on the brakes and create unnecessary traffic.
Perhaps the biggest one is right here. Slamming on your brakes is dangerous, especially if there are multiple cars behind you.
Cars may swerve to avoid you, or even worse, drive off the side of the road in fear that they might rear-end you. It's no different from those who brake check. It creates a dangerous situation that didn't need to exist in the first place.
If you're not doing anything illegal, then don't worry
Anyone who's commuted early in the morning knows this about New Jersey. The flow will do well over the speed limit, even if there's a cop up ahead with its lights off. As long as everyone's moving along safely, there's nothing to worry about. But the moment that one person panics, it's game over, and that traffic backlog begins.
So please don't be that person. We all share that fear at times that we're going to get pulled over, it's only normal. But for the most part, police officers aren't out there to get you, so don't worry.
Just be smart, drive safely, and stay within the speed limit. If you do that, then there's no reason to slam on those brakes every time you see a cop car.