And so the law caught up with me again for the third time, barely 9 months after my last seatbelt ticket. This time I was caught in my own little hometown while driving to work. I was alert enough to see the cop standing by the side of the road looking into cars. I scrambled to grab the belt but it kept slipping out of my hand and by the time I had a good grip, I was spotted and got pointed out of the traffic. Game over.
As I waited for the cop while he was checking my license and registration, I thought the only thing I hated more than wearing the seatbelt was to pay the fine. I could mount no defense. I had clearly broken the law and the officer was just doing his job. Other than that, I consider myself a law-abiding driver. I drive defensively, observe all traffic rules, and I don’t chatter on a cell phone. I don't even have a cell phone. The policeman's gruff manner had changed by the time he returned. He actually apologized for taking long to check my papers (I had handed him an expired registration) and gave me a $37 ticket. Not too painful, considering the fact that my last one was over $100.
I suppose being a town resident had something to do with softening him up. The police department is requesting a sizeable budget from the town for upgrades and there's a lot of grumbling from the taxpayers who are fed up with high taxes. The referendum is coming up soon and there's no need to harass the already irritated residents.
As I continued my commute with the seatbelt fastened I kept fighting the contraption to get some breathing room. I felt like a shackled prisoner in my car, trapped and pinned down to my seat. Several times I was distracted from the road while I kept yanking on the belt to loosen the death grip. Clearly this wasn't going to work.
Obviously fighting this law through civil disobedience was going to cost me a lot of money and a bad record. The apparent solution was in the form of a small keychain store card. I pulled the belt far enough to keep it loose about me and then jammed the card through the slit on the top hook. That put enough pressure on the belt preventing it from being recoiled by the spring. After adjusting the length several times, I think I finally achieved a good balance between looseness and a buckled seatbelt.
I'm not sure if what I've done is illegal or constitutes tampering, worthy of a fine. while I have slightly inhibited the natural operation of the seatbelt, I haven’t made any changes to the mechanism itself. I consider it more of a superficial adjustment, but I suppose it has somewhat reduced the belt's safety factor. For now this allows me to be a more alert driver, while hopefully dodging another ticket.
By the way, I don't recommend anyone doing this. Drive safely and wear your seatbelts.