Stirring up a hornets’ nest

The marketing messages on MassDOT’s electronic signs changed to show a long essay nobody would read. I knew what it meant anyway. Drivers beware.

Last week a driver in the left lane of the Massachusetts Turnpike swerved across the highway and killed a police officer running a speed trap.

We don’t know the cause, which could be anything from malfunction to murder.

We do know that the “move over” law, which the signs were trying to threaten me with, couldn’t have helped. It might have caused the wreck, because enforcing the law encourages drivers to make unsafe lane changes, but it couldn’t have prevented it.

Based on previous experience, we can expect state troopers to get revenge on drivers. Several years ago a woman hit a state police car in a work zone on I-95 and police responded by giving speeding tickets to drivers going under the speed limit. Tell it to the judge, they said.

A couple years ago a Turnpike employee got hit and the Turnpike Authority told its police force to write more speeding tickets.

Is that their response to everything?

The Turnpike has long been a speed trap. The Turnpike Authority wrote its own speed limit law so it could keep revenue from speeding tickets, and had its own State Police troop with a ticket quota to keep the revenue flowing. The merger with the state DOT a few years ago was supposed to turn the Turnpike into a regular highway. Not yet. It’s still business as usual.

In normal times there’s a pattern to police activity on the Turnpike.

That car approaching from behind at 90 mph is probably a police officer, but he’s not out to write you a ticket. If you move over when he tailgates a few feet off your bumper, you won’t get a ticket. Otherwise, it’s contempt of cop. (Probably speeding, failure to keep right, and no seat belt. No, it doesn’t matter if you were wearing a seat belt. Drivers who don’t respect authority don’t wear seat belts.)

It’s the parked cars that are out to get you. The eastbound shoulder (on the south) has a lot of shade for police to hide in. Watch out eastbound before I-84 and near the maintenance building on the other side after I-495. The official use only ramps at various locations are also traditional hiding places.

But now, who knows?

I did see more drivers pulled over than usual last weekend on Route 128, but it’s too early to say if that’s coincidence.

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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