Motoring in New England – Efficient and Fun at More than 15 mph Above the Limit

In the third and final of the related posts, motoring in New England. As carried out by most established New Englanders, this means taking to the narrow, curving roads in a modern, well-equipped, tinted-windowed sports-utility vehicle (SUV), high performance sedan (HPS) or pickup truck (PUT), telephone handset at hand as one call after another is knocked off the to-do list.

During school run time, the kids are in tow as well, more distraction and more calls to complete. Oh wait, that’s in Mass. where handsets are still legal, it’s handless gear elsewhere etc though the distraction of conversation is still there.

As carried out with great caution by some new New Englanders, this may include taking to the road in an imported economy vehicle or worse yet, underpowered domestic economy car. In such a case, the driver is unlikely to use a handset, to avoid the attention of law enforcement, because although handset use for phoning is lawful, texting and other use of the handset such as fiddling with the GPS is not. Not that one isn’t perfectly well-documented, and not that law enforcement isn’t exceptionally well-trained and polite, it is the hassle and risk that is to be avoided, and of course the potential fines which could be un-economic. The school run may or may not happen, kids can walk or ride the school bus, fer goodness sake.

All Massachusetts drivers seem to drive a perceived 15 mph over the speed limit. This was learned the hard way in June, after being forced off the road by a PUT possibly driven by a drunk driver on a state road on a June afternoon, with the 20-something male passenger shouting “mother-f****r.” Once I stopped shaking, I started laughing, because I was old enough to be his mother and probably had quite a bit in common with her, with some exceptions. This was before PUT harassment and teal-shaming became routine (to the extent that the Massachusetts attorney general instituted a hotline), and was quite upsetting at the time.

Don’t believe the 15 mph thing? Here is a traffic study posted by the Central Massachusetts Town of Acton for an an intersection on Route 2

https://www.massdot.state.ma.us/Portals/8/docs/traffic/SafetyAudit/District3/Acton-Rte2_Taylor_Piper_RSA.pdf

We can extract some illustrative points from this study done by experts:

  1. The speed limit at the intersection studied is 45 mph.
  2. “Travel speeds exceeding 60 mph in the 45 mph zone are quite typical,” according to police officers participating in the traffic study.
  3. When law enforcement makes stops for exceeding 45 mph, “court officials appear to feel that traffic speeds exceeding 45 mph are appropriate and rule against the issuing officer.”
  4. In other words, officials ruling on motorists appealing their tickets feel “entitled” to speed at that intersection, as do the motorists savvy enough to dispute their tickets.
  5. Motorists in Massachusetts should feel emboldened and routinely appeal any tickets for speeding, according to this traffic study, because the folks running the court system like to speed, too.
  6. Apparently Mass. is full of important people who need to get from Point A to Point B ASAP.
  7. As a friendly limo driver in Connecticut told me, “We have a word for drivers from Massachusetts…, the adjective form being ‘Mass-holic’.”
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