Driving 60 Mph in a 45 Mph Zone? Why Not?
|By Jim Belshaw|
Of the Journal
Because of my longstanding Sunday No-Rant policy, this will not be a driving rant or even a Montaño Bridge rant.
Start ranting and the next thing you know you'll want to blog and then there's no end to it. Not that blogging is so bad. Bloggers are the pamphleteers of our age and that's good. But I worry about some of them.
It's not what they blog that worries me, but when they blog. When you start seeing bloggers routinely sending out their great thoughts at 2:37 a.m. or 3:11 a.m. or 4:06 a.m., it raises concerns about unhappy home lives.
So instead of a rant, let's call today an inquiry.
Question One: If you can do the math, will the cop in your rearview mirror give you a break?
Question Two: If you can't do the math, can you get out of the ticket if you tell the cop that the mayor said it was OK if you broke the law, not that the mayor was encouraging anyone to break the law, only that it was ... OK to do it.
In the end, though, it'll probably be easier if you can do the math.
The questions, like all questions about the way we drive, are open-ended, the best kind of questions because everyone has an opinion but little in the way of backing it up.
This makes it like arguing about who's No.1 in college football and who doesn't want to do that?
Friday morning, I'm on Coors Boulevard, headed south to the mayor's newest striping on Montaño Bridge. I'd not seen it yet and I felt the weight of civic responsibility.
Also, two federal agencies are in the mayor's face about his restriping of the bridge and the road; and the Mid-Region Council of Governments is unhappy with the mayor, as well.
With the holidays coming and the rate at which the striping is changing, it seemed to me that there was a possibility of the bridge being candy-striped a nice red and white for Christmas. So I wanted to see what we had now.
Normally, I avoid Coors Boulevard on weekday mornings. It's the kind of drive that makes you wonder how bad the Baghdad airport road really could be.
So on Friday, I'm in the flow of traffic and we're all sailing along smoothly when I notice the SUV behind me.
His left arm is draped over the top of the steering wheel, the wrist controlling the wheel, the fingers hanging over the edge of it. Once in a while, he raises the fingers in order to get a better view of the speedometer.
He is disappointed with what he sees.
More than that, he is disappointed in me, as I am the reason he is disappointed in his own speedometer.
But everyone's going the same speed. We're in the flow. Only he is unhappy.
I look at my speedometer. All of us are going 60 miles an hour. The speed limit is 45.
We are in the 85th percentile.
We're 15 miles an hour over the speed limit on a crowded urban arterial in the middle of the commute. This is odd territory for me, the driver at my house known as La Tortuga.
But we're in the 85th percentile ... I think.
I don't know this for a scientific fact, as my 85th percentile background is pretty much Google-based. I will take it on faith that "the 85th percentile is the speed at which 85 percent of motorists feel it is reasonable and safe to drive on a given road."
Friday morning on Coors Boulevard, we all thought 60 in a 45 was just dandy, except for the SUV behind me, but there's always one of him in every crowd, the inevitable and cranky anomaly.
Also on Friday, the mayor said if we wanted to use the 10-foot-wide shoulder on Montaño until the road is officially four lanes, we should just go ahead and do it because the cops will be busy with other things.
Not that he was advocating that drivers break the law, of course.
"In the scheme of things, the needs we have for policing, that's not one of the high enforcement priorities," the mayor said.
So when you go to work Monday morning, and it looks like you have enough people to make up an 85th percentile over there on the shoulder ...
Life is so much easier when you can do the math.
What is below is an excerpt of a article that was in the Saturday Albuquerque Journal talking about threats of federal sanctions over the recent restriping of Montaño Road
|...And if drivers want to use the 10-foot shoulder until the road is officially four lanes, Chávez said local police will probably be too busy with more important issues to stop them.|
"If Albuquerqueans decide to drive on that, that will be a choice they make individually," Chávez said, adding, "We're really pressed for (police) resources."
But Chávez said he wasn't advocating that drivers break the law by driving on the shoulder.
"In the scheme of things," he said, "the needs we have for policing, that's not one of the high enforcement priorities."