Anything Reasonable and Proper

When I learned to drive, Iowa had no speed limits. Anything reasonable and proper was the rule. But, we didn't have any mega-highways then, either.

And if you went off the road there wasn't much to hit. Although, the one time I flew off a highway, thanks to a blown tire, I landed in the middle of a herd of cattle. The cows didn't care, but the farmer was angry about the fence.

I was forever being told not to drive barefoot, although I never could find that law in the rule book.

Everyone claimed that the big spotlight on my old Packard was illegal, but we only used it for "bushwhacking," sneaking up to surprise friends parked in the woods with their current boy or girl friend, and I never found that regulation in the book either.

But, it is included in the Massachusetts Driver Manual. Can't use a spotlight except to read signs or in an emergency if the headlights fail.

The new rule books are out for Massachusetts, by the way. And I've just read it, learning once again that it is legal to use a cellophane while driving as long as you keep one hand on the steering wheel, but that it's illegal to wear radio headsets while driving. Televisions have to be located where the driver can't see them. Not a word about those guys I pass on the Mass Pike who are reading newspapers.

Kids under 12 cannot ride in the back of a pickup, unless the truck is in a parade, and all adults and all children under 12 have to be fastened with seat belts, car seats for those 5 and younger, in all vehicles.

Don't even think about driving on a bet or a wager, drag racing, throwing lighted cigarets, garbage or glass out of the car. All are illegal in Massachusetts. As is failure to yield to traffic when turning left.

That's my pet peeve, by the way--and making left turns in front of oncoming traffic seems to be a bloodsport in Massachusetts.

Never have I lived anywhere like this. The first driver in line just seems to think he can turn left no matter what. Yes, I know some intersections have delayed green, but most don't. And the rules say that, when making ANY left turn you must first yield to oncoming vehicles.

You're required to yield for funeral processions and horse-drawn vehicles, too.

And, emergency vehicles. If you hear a siren or see flashing lights, coming from any direction, you must pull over to the right side of the road and stop until fire, police, ambulance or other emergency vehicles pass.

If you're on a road with more than one lane, like the Mass Pike, the right lane is for slower traffic. The outside lane is the passing lane. You'd be surprised at how many people take a leisurely drive in the fast lane, then are offended when you pass on the right. Move over, folks, please. If you're not in the flow, you're going to cause a bottleneck.

Rotaries. Drivers have to yield right-if-way to vehicles already in the rotary. Admittedly, not a lot of states have these confounded things, but since we do, you now know the rules.

Those pedestrian crossings in downtown Westfield are terrific. You can actually cross the street. But now we have to educate the pedestrians. They can't just go off the curb in front of traffic at intersections with traffic lights and walk signals. If the "don't walk" sign is on it's not legal to cross.

Bicyclists and pedestrians. Pedestrians should walk facing traffic. But bicyclists have to go with the traffic. And all riders under 13 have to wear helmets on public ways or property.

Now, if you've got a license, it can be taken away. If you're a threat to public safety, for example. For three speeding violations in a year. For five surchargeable events in three years, or for three moving violations or 12 violations in four years.

Don't even think about driving after drug or alcohol use.

And, beware, your license won't be renewed if you owe child support, have outstanding court warrants, owe excise tax, have a citation for an abandoned vehicle, or haven't paid your parking fines.

Want to know more? Pick up the new Registry book, or visit their website http://www.magnet.state.ma.us/rmv. They'll actually provide personal responses to your questions.

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