This year it's been 20 years since Jim Baxter (NMA Founder and President) set out to end the hypocrisy surrounding the national 55 mph speed limit.
The resulting National Motorists Association has come a long way. The good news is that one of our biggest victories has succeeded in raising speed limits. On the other hand, the propaganda that "speed kills" is still alive and NMA continues to confront those who view motorists as an endless source of revenue.
So, this past September in Massachusetts, we celebrated our anniversary with a party. You can see the cake, the good company, and the door prizes that you may have missed on the Massachusetts Web site: http://motorists.org/ma/party.html
In November, the Boston Globe West ran a story about traffic tie-ups at Newton Corner. The paper however refused to print my suggestion that the city should promote the existing (and legal) left-on-red from the Park Street overpass to the Pike entrance westbound. The reason for the Globe's refusal is that one Newton cop "didn't think it was a good idea."
So here is a suggestion: Do it anyway - the turn is legal. It will increase the flow of traffic and improve safety. Tell everyone else who drives there to do the same.
Pressure created by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has been mounting on Massachusetts to change the Commonwealth's legal definition of drunk driving to .08 percent Blood Alcohol Content (BAC). Currently, the 0.08 percent BAC is only an evidence of being drunk rather than an automatic proof of operating under the influence. MADD would like to change this, and the loss of federal dollars is used as a justification to convict more people who may in fact be operating their vehicles safely.
First of all, let me stress I - or the NMA - do not support drunk driving. Drunk drivers are dangerous and should be taken off the road. That doesn't mean we should accept everything MADD tells us as gospel.
The biggest problem is that "alcohol-related" is not the same as "caused by alcohol." For instance, a ten car pile-up can be officially classified as "alcohol related," simply because one passenger was drunk! (Maybe he was just being driven home by a designated driver...) Or a woman has one drink, but just to be safe she decides to walk home. Along the way, she stumbles on the road and is hit by a sober driver. That accident officially becomes "alcohol related." (30% of automobile collisions with non-motorists involve pedestrians or bicyclists with some level of alcohol in their systems.)
And here is the rub: It's skewed statistics like these that are used to justify sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols against motorists. And since the overwhelming majority of motorists are driving safely, this means more tickets for you and me on unrelated charges. This doesn't increase the safety of our roads - it generates more money.
Concentrating on truly impaired and on the repeat offenders are the ways to achieve the goal of reducing dangerous driving.
** The reduction of the toll increase for Fast Lane customers is scheduled to end in March 2003.
** In our Little Known Laws series: Your headlights must be on if your wipers are on, and you must turn on the interior light of your car if an officers asks you to.
At the end of another year, we still have the lowest fatality rate in the nation. Government agencies credit themselves with the success, but at the same time they are blaming us for being unlike the other states: Not enough people use seat belts. Our drunk driving laws are not good enough. We don't have any red light cameras.
So here are some federally sponsored excuses to stop you and scrutinize your driving and your vehicle, just because it's that time of the month:
Happy New Year,
MA State Chapter Coordinator
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