Thirty-five years ago, middle school-age Mike Brucks realized he wanted to be a police officer. After graduating from high school he joined the army and became a military traffic cop on the million-acre Fort Bliss in western Texas and New Mexico. “It was a small-scale community, with slow speeds, and we would investigate accidents on- and off-post, in Colorado, New Mexico, and as far as Corpus Christi, anywhere a serviceman was injured or killed,” Brucks says. After six years in the Army he joined the El Paso Police Department as a traffic cop. He retired last May after 22 years and almost 40,000 tickets, by his estimation, most of which he issued while riding Kawasaki and Harley-Davidson big-motor touring bikes. Here are some of his stories from the road and tips for motorists looking to avoid a ticket.
Confessions Of A Traffic Cop | Hypocrites With Badges
By Phil Berg | Popular Mechanics
Motorcycles accelerate so much faster and can maneuver around traffic better. When I’m in a car, it’s harder to get it turned around. I grew up riding dirt bikes as a kid. I’ve always been riding. I teach riding with the Motorcycle Safety Foundation; I have a BMW RT1150 as a personal bike.
No. You’ve got a radar detector; you know where we hide. If you are thinking we are hiding somewhere, it’s because you’re speeding.
I stay on the freeway mostly. That’s where there are more speeders. I’ll park under overpasses, on bridges. I need to be able to start the bike and accelerate to go after someone. If there are a lot of exits, I can miss [a speeder] who can maybe get off at an exit, and then it’s too late to catch him.
The speed limit in Texas used to be 60 mph, [and] well, out on the clear road where there’s a lot of visibility I give people leeway. I wouldn’t write tickets until they got to 80 mph. I’ve never worked an area where the speed limit drops a lot without warning, what I call a trap. If there’s a new speed limit that’s lower, it [takes] time for people to get used to it and I don’t write tickets there.
Monday through Friday, they’re all trying to get to work; they go 70 to 75 mph in a 60 mph zone. On Saturdays and Sundays, there is less traffic, no rush hour, and they go 85 to 90 mph. On the [Woodrow Bean] Transmountain Road, there is a “100 Miles per Hour” club, and a lot of motorcyclists run it on the weekends. When I first started, I worked night shifts, and there are a lot of bad people out there at night. So I liked days, and I would try to work as early as possible before it got hot, because I was on a motorcycle.
No, the traffic engineers, at least in Texas, are pretty good. It’s not that some parts of the highway are safer for speeding, it’s that drivers aren’t always paying attention. People die on lonely deserted stretches of road too. There are a lot of times drivers aren’t concentrating. They need to understand you’re going 100 feet per second on the highway. Above 75 mph things just happen so fast, [whether it's] a flat tire, a coyote, wind, dirt, or rocks. It’s not that much better now that cars are safer; reaction times are still the same.
I clocked a woman coming down from New Mexico on Highway 54 at 111 mph. She had just been stopped for going 90 mph 15 minutes [earlier] in New Mexico. Everybody has a reason, and I want to know it. I always ask why someone was speeding, and that’s just to open things up. I want to know what they’re thinking, if they need my help for something. She had been crying, and the tears didn’t just start—they’d been going on a long time, you can tell. She was on her way to a motel in El Paso to catch her husband who was shacked up with another woman there, cheating. How do you write a ticket for that?
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