Now that the party is over and all the hot air balloons have been released, it's time to re-assess the year so far.
The massive traffic tie-ups predicted for almost all of Massachusetts during the National Democratic Convention never materialized, just like the Y2K bug or Comet Kohoutek.
In related news, the MBTA has apparently suspended searching passengers boarding the T just long enough for the ACLU to drop its lawsuit against the T for constitutional violation. Meanwhile, automobile searches became a case of being "nibbled to death by ducks." Each Supreme Court case allowed something else to happen and the sum total is that your car can now be searched with a pretext any rational cop can come up. It may be too late for the ACLU to say "no, you can't ask me my name on the T" after allowing our cars to be searched basically at any time.
According to the letter from Colonel Thomas Foley, the State Police Superintendent, exceeding an arbitrary speed limit number set by politicians is always dangerous. However police officers suddenly running out onto the interstate, which causes cars to swerve and brake uncontrollably is an "accepted enforcement technique" designed to "make our roads safer every day."
So there you have it, folks. If it was a deer darting around in traffic, our men in blue would undoubtedly have shot it as a safety hazard. But since these were police officers themselves, the havoc they created on the highway was for our own safety.
Buried within the report were the actual numbers: Vermont went from no fatalities to two; New Hampshire from one to three. Rhode Island and Maine both went from two to three deaths each. Connecticut's fatalities dropped from two to one, police said. And Massachusetts dropped from four to three.
2003 = 11 fatalities.
2004 = 15 fatalities.
Maybe the "enforcement and education method used" had a different effect than the police claimed. In my eyes, four more dead people this year than last year is hardly an improvement.
Alcohol-Related Traffic Fatalities
(by David J. Hanson, Ph.D.)
"The number of alcohol-related traffic deaths increased by only 19 fatalities between 2001 and 2002. As the Associate Press correctly reported, it was "up slightly." But statistically-speaking, Reuters News Service correctly reported that alcohol-related traffic fatalities "remained unchanged." In terms of miles driven, according to NHTSA, alcohol-related traffic fatalities continued their long-term decline. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) quickly deplored the rise in alcohol-related traffic fatalities as part of an on-going epidemic."
Yearly NHTSA Fatality Report
The statistics released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration earlier this month showed that highway fatalities were down in 2003-to 42,643 from 43,005 in 2002. But that doesn't tell you much about safety until these numbers are placed alongside the amount of driving people are doing. The key statistic is fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. That number hasn't changed much in recent years - 1.8 in 2003, 1.51 in 2002 and 1.51 again in 2001. The agency said "U.S. roads are now safer than ever" and once again, Massachusetts drivers were among the safest in the nation. Congratulation!
Also, the House gave a final approval to a measure requiring children under 16 to wear helmets while riding a bike, a skateboard, in-line skates, or a scooter. Current law requires only bicyclists under 12 to wear a helmet. Final Senate and Governor's approvals are expected. A different bill regulating minimotorbikes hit a snag, when Cambridge Democrat Senator Jarrett T. Barrios' amendment made it apply to both minimotorbikes and Segways. The sponsor of the bill, Lynn Democrat Robert Fennell, said he never intended Segways to be included. "Our feeling has always been that Segway caters to a different market that generally is older, has a driver's license and insurance, and has responsibility with experience on the road," said his aide. The bill has been sent back to committee for reconsideration.
The Bourne rotary "fly-over" project at the entrance to the Cape is approved. The legislature spent so long debating it, that it will probably be delayed a year. The authorization act also requires the state to proceed on the New Bedford/Fall River commuter rail extension, a project that will carry fewer people at ten times the cost. It also costs more than widening of Route 24 would. The road is already getting congested and it is projected to become severely congested by 2025. The commuter line will carry fewer passengers than a lane of road...
"I tried an experiment. I attempted to obey the law," Carr said of his trip during which his cruise control was set at 45 mph - the new speed limit on the Turnpike Extension from Weston to Boston.
He entered in Newton and his intended destination was Exit 18 to Cambridge on the left side of the highway. "It was impossible to safely change lanes at that speed, and speeding up to merge safely is illegal. So I missed my exit."
"I'm sure we're not going to be stopping anyone going (under) 60," State police Maj. Michael Mucci was quoted in the Herald.
Carr says that's pointless. "If we can go 55, then admit it. Why post 45?"
So you see, it's not all gloom and doom in trafficland. Keep up the good work and remember that "Illegitimi non carborundum" is pseudo-Latin. The correct phrase should be "Noli arrogantium iniurias pati" ('Don't let the bastards grind you down').
NMA MA Coordinator
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