Fast forward a couple years later, and my middle son, Steffen turned fifteen and a half. The age a teenager needs to be in order to receive a learner's permit in Washington state. Unlike Michael, he had been enthusiastic and eager about driving. We signed him up for driver's education at the high school and he began driving as soon as he had that hot little permit in his hand. He's a good driver and very attentive, although he likes to take corners a little faster then I like. Last week, when coming home from scouts, Steffen was driving and Ed was in the passenger seat supervising, when a car came up behind them really fast. Steffen could see this car gaining on them from the rear view mirror. Steffen asked his dad what to do and Ed looked at the speedometer and noticed Steffen was going a couple miles under the speed limit, but told him to slow down and let the car behind them pass. Steffen slowed down and tried to pull over on the right side of the shoulder a little. The issue was any further over on the right and they would have ended up in the Hood Canal. Well, this car did not pass, but stayed on tail; Steffen kept driving down the road, keeping his foot hovering near the brake. The road comes to a open area and Steffen and Ed see red and blue lights flashing behind them. Ed had Steffen pullover and then told him to roll down the window, although for the life of him he could not figure our why the officer was pulling them over. The county officer stepped up to the window, noticed Steffen and said, "Ahhh, driving lesson?" Steffen nodded his head. The officer then asked for Steffen's permit and Ed's license, which they complied. He then proceeded to tell them that the reason he pulled them over was because Steffen was brake checking. What?! Ed who has a CDL did not even know what brake checking was. Ed thought maybe they had been pulled over because Steffen was driving at night and the officer said no and then explained the state of Washington's licensing policy and how a teenager goes from a learner's permit to an intermediate license and finally to a driver's license once they turn 18 years old. He then walked back to his vehicle and did the thing officer's do in their vehicle while the driver is sweating bullets. The officer came back to the window a few moments later and told Steffen to watch the brake checking as it was a fineable offensive. Then he told him to check for traffic before pulling back onto the road.
Once Ed and Steffen arrived home, they told me about their experience and even I had never heard of brake checking, so I Googled it. Brake checking is the "act of slamming on the brakes in a car to make the person behind you slam on their brakes." Well, okay, but Steffen was not brake checking, if anything he was riding the brakes, which new driver's do.
I have two gripes. One, I honestly believe this officer did this on purpose to try and get the driver (Steffen) to brake check; therefore, entrapping the driver. Second, Steffen is now afraid to brake. Really! He is so afraid of being pulled over again, that we have to encourage him to use the brake pedal. You know, the thing that STOPS the vehicle. Thanks, thanks a lot, Mr. Officer. <sarcasm>