I Was Talking To a Trooper

Boston drivers are awful.

The longer you drive in Boston, the worse your habits get.

And the more you drive the Turnpike, the more you notice the bad drivers.

Like the guy in the left lane going about 55. Or slower. With no intentions of pulling over into the slow lane, or even the middle lane, despite the parade of cars lining up behind him.

It's not always a guy, of course. But, whichever sex, they sure clog up what could be a rather smooth drive. It's my Personal Pike Peeve.

Now, a trooper I know, and I didn't meet him because I was speeding down the Turnpike, told me that these left laners drive him crazy, too.

And when he stops them, and tickets them, they can't figure out why.

That's right, tickets them. Because to drive in the left or fast lane, and impede the flow of traffic, is an offense that may have to literally pay for. With a hundred dollar fine.

So, folks, lead, follow or get out of the way. Because those of us that use the Pike on a frequent basis just might show a little road rage.

And then we'll be in trouble. Thanks to a two year campaign to, pardon the pun, put the brakes on the state's aggressive drivers, you might have your license suspended. Or, at the very least, get sent back to school.

State Troopers, in unmarked cars, are videotaping dangerous drivers and if you're caught on video you stand nearly a 100 percent chance of having your license suspended. Even if your driving is not caught on film, you can still have your license suspended or get sent to a mandated retraining course.

Just a year ago, some 42 percent of us considered ourselves aggressive drivers, according to the Governor's Highway Safety Bureau. But the state's campaign of education and enlightenment must be working because only 30 percent of the people polled just weeks ago consider themselves aggressive.

And, a full 40 percent of us claim this year to be not at all aggressive, compared to 29 percent last year.

Can you define aggressive? It includes speeding, weaving in and out of lanes, running red lights or stop signs plus the more obnoxious habits of swearing, using obscene gestures, failing to signal, tailgating, and failing to signal lane changes.

How often do we do those things?

Massachusetts drivers in the current survey report that 70 percent of us have driven 20 mph over the speed limit, 55 percent honk their horns, 37 percent admit swearing at other drivers, 28 percent tailgate, 24 percent cut off cars to get into a lane, and 19 percent weave in and out of traffic.

We're all guilty at some time or another. But thinking about the penalties just might make us all a little more courteous. And, even more courteous, if legislation proposed on Beacon Hill this year is successful in imposing even stiffer penalties for any of the signs of aggressive driving.

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