Running the gauntlet

I hate freeway snipers.

I was on the straightest road in America when I noticed a person bent over the edge of the overpass shooting into traffic. A mile later two victims were on the shoulder while a third chase car lay in wait.

I hate holiday weekends.

On holiday weekends the federal government turns our gas taxes into extra speed traps. My plan to avoid Memorial Day failed and I ended up crossing the country over the long weekend.

If my map skills serve me, this particular trap was on the South K Road overpass over I-80 in Hamilton County, Nebraska, shooting laser beams at eastbound traffic after exit 324.

To what end? That section of I-80 is the straightest in the country, if you believe Wikipedia. Traffic was moving smoothly, around 75 in the right lane and 80 in the left lane.

There have been times when I was passed by an aggressive driver who I saw pulled over a few miles later, but not that day.

I didn’t see any fast drivers. I didn’t see any slow drivers. I didn’t see any impaired drivers. I didn’t see any left lane blockers. I didn’t see anybody who deserved a ticket.

I did see two cars pulled over, for no good reason I can see. On a holiday it’s likely the officers had a NHTSA grant with an express or implied ticket quota. They were going to get somebody, whether for speeding, reckless driving, a dirty license plate, or speeding. They like speeding.

The official theme of this year’s Memorial Day ticketing blitz — in Nebraska and around the country — was seat belt tickets. The official theme in press releases and on highway signs. Not in reality. Police weren’t looking into cars. They were sitting in the median with radar or laser.

This was all wasted time and money, and there must have been hundreds of major operations like it around the country. Ohio had a pack of five cars around mile 115 on the Turnpike. Other states had more individual cars than usual.

A laser jammer would be a good tool for a holiday road trip. (They’re illegal in some states, but jammers that use laser diodes instead of LEDs rarely set off jam alarms on laser guns.)

I was driving without electronic countermeasures last weekend. Still, I didn’t get caught because I knew the threat was out there. If you do a lot of driving you should learn where traps may be and where you can relax.

For example, I’ve never seen a cop on I-86 in Pennsylvania, but they are common just over the line in New York. Both sections of highway were built around the same time. New York left crossovers and hiding places in the median, and trees to cast shadows on the shoulder.

As the Nebraska State Patrol reminded me, you also have to look up. It’s an important reminder. In the populated area where I live overpasses have fences and are not used for speed traps. In rural areas anybody can park on top and start shooting.

Did I mention I hate freeway snipers?

The opinions expressed in this post belong to the author and do not necessarily represent those of the National Motorists Association or the NMA Foundation. This content is for informational purposes and is not intended as legal advice. No representations are made regarding the accuracy of this post or the included links.

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