The income umbrella (AP photo/Charles Dharapak)

A friend drove poorly and got caught.

She (many details changed to protect privacy) vroomed up to a traffic light and made a quick right-hand turn. The turn was legal. The fact that the friend made the turn without coming to a full and complete stop was … a problem.

A mean, rotten camera installed by a vicious, evil, blood-sucking traffic camera company had the gall to photograph my friend’s driving. The authorities sent my friend a ticket. The authorities were not using the machine evidence to impose “points” on my friend’s driving record. They just wanted her to send in cash.

My friend got mad at the automated driver cash milking machine system. She decided to go to court to fight the machine.

The machine won.

My friend went to court and had no luck whatsoever with fighting the ticket. But she did learn something about her fellow drivers.

Most freely admitted their guilt.

They were in court not to contest the ticket, but to ask the judge for permission to pay the $95 fine in installments.

In other words: Typical New Jersey drivers — people who have jobs and enough money to fuel and drive cars — are so strapped for cash that many have trouble scraping up $95 in spare cash.

The Life and Health Insurance Foundation for Education (LIFE) is trying to raise awareness for disability insurance this month as it uses its realLIFEstories campaign to drum up publicity for life insurance.

LIFE, and other organizations that promote the need for income protection products, often talk about the need to “insure your paycheck.” They try to spread the message that many Americans desperately need income protection because they have little savings and tend to live paycheck to paycheck.

For me, learning that so many drivers struggle to come up with $95 to pay a traffic fine put an exclamation point on that message.

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