Driving in Pennsylvania

Several years ago I wrote of my adventures, frustrations, and annoyance with the Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles. I just completed my online license and car registration renewals and am pleased that it was as easy as going online and charging it all to a credit card. But, that is only the middle (not beginning) of my travails with driving in Pennsylvania. First of all, I still am not entirely sure whether or not talking on your cell phone is legal. Everyone seems to do it and, thankfully, I don’t have to worry about it anymore since I have the new car with hands-free options. Second, construction is everywhere which means that traffic, especially in the summer, is awful. And third, and not to be dismissed because it is the last on my list, pedestrians of course have the right of way. Once a person steps off the curb into a crosswalk, all traffic MUSt stop. I am well aware of this law and know it is not unusual since most states have similar regulations.

A few weeks ago, I was returning from the Port Jervis train station, having just dropped Michael there to catch a late train back to the city. Once I crossed the bridge from New York into Pennsylvania, I was in Matamoros and drove at about 20 MPH although the speed limit is 25. It was slow because of traffic and I wasn’t in a hurry so it didn’t bother me a bit. I got to a crosswalk that was partially blocked and, once in the crosswalk, I saw two people crossing. Immediately thereafter I was pulled over by a local trooper. He was very apologetic, polite and I asked him why he pulled me over. “You didn’t stop for the pedestrians in the crosswalk,” he said. I answered, “I couldn’t see them because a truck was blocking half the crosswalk so they weren’t visible until I was halfway through.” He asked, “Oh, you mean the white truck?” At this point I thought he would send me on my way. But, no, of course not. “Yes,” I answered. Then he asked for my paperwork – his word not mine. I handed him my license, registration, and proof of insurance. He returned a few minutes later and stated, “Your paperwork is all in order,” as if he expected a different result. Of course it was! So he wrote me a ticket saying that if I requested a hearing, it would be reduced to a parking ticket and not carry any points on my license. I asked him why he was writing the ticket if that was the case and he had no answer. To add insult to injury, he started telling me about how he was trying to cross the street in Milford with his children and a police car sped through the crosswalk after they had stepped off the curb!

I was furious to say the least, came home and immediately sent in my ticket with a request for a hearing. In order to do this it is required that I send in collateral which was the full price of the ticket. The hearing is scheduled for June 16th in Milford which is convenient enough. It’s the same courthouse where Eric Frein who killed the State Trooper and hid out in the local woods was arraigned. At any rate, I remain irritated and will let you know how it turns out. I hope I haven’t reported this story already and, if I have, forgive me. On a more pleasant note, as I sit here at my desk, I am looking out at the woods which is filling in nicely, the trees are blooming and it is looking more and more like spring. Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there. It is now okay to plant in the north!