My last post described an experiment I want to try:
I am so confused. For my next experiment, I think I’m going to try driving the speed limit again. When a police officer tries to pass me, I’m going to accelerate to match his speed so he can’t. I’m curious if he’ll give me a ticket for going the same speed as him.
A commenter gave a valuable warning:
Regarding your next experiment, in at least some jurisdictions and some circumstances, it is illegal to accelerate when a vehicle is attempting to pass you.
So I thought I should look into it. It turns out the rules can be quite strange. I found a good post about the issue discussing Michigan traffic laws. It quotes the Michigan Vehicle Code:
(b) Except when overtaking and passing on the right is permitted, the driver of an overtaken vehicle shall give way to the right in favor of the overtaking vehicle on audible signal and shall not increase the speed of his or her vehicle until completely passed by the overtaking vehicle.
Which says a person being passed cannot accelerate when being passed. However, as the post points out, there is the strange phrase "on audible signal." That would seem to suggest you cannot be cited under this code unless the person passing you honked. This is strange because I don't think I've ever seen anyone honk as part of passing a person (well, except when expressing anger).
I thought that was interesting, so I looked up the Illinois Vehicle Code (I live in Illinois). I found the exact same text. That means this is the rule which would apply to my proposed experiment. That means I do not need to "give way to the right in favor of the overtaking" police car unless the officer honks at me. However, the phrase "on audible signal" is only applied to the first portion. It is not attached to the portion prohibiting accelerating while being passed. That means my experiment would require violating this traffic code.
That might sound bad, but the experiment always involved breaking the law. My plan was to travel at the speed limit until a police officer tried to pass me. Passing me would require the officer break the law by speeding. At that point, I would break the same law by accelerating and going over the speed limit. Now we just know I'd also be breaking an additional law.
I mostly wanted to make this post because I thought it was funny to imagine every person passing another person on the road honking while doing so. I do want to ask a couple questions though. First, if this law were not an issue, could an officer give you a ticket for accelerating to match his speed? I don't think so. If one could, any officer could drive over the speed limit then pull over anyone behind him who matches his speed. That'd be silly.
Second, can an officer give me a ticket for breaking this law under the circumstances I describe in my proposed experiment? He and I would both be breaking the law by speeding, but I would also be breaking another law. Does breaking two laws mean it's okay for an officer breaking one law to give me a ticket?
Actually, that raises a third question. While it's true I would be breaking two laws in my proposed experiment, I would only be doing so in response to the officer breaking a law himself. Does that matter? It seems it should.
These are the sort of things I find myself pondering far too often. I don't know how interesting other people find them, but it's Easter today. That means I got to sit with family members watching reality television and talking. It was either think about stuff like this or go insane.
In any event, happy Easter!