A look back at 2017

As 2017 ends, here’s a look back at some of the driving news.

Some things don’t change. Around the country, a few VIPs got caught but most got away with saying “do you know who I am?” Our gas tax dollars paid police to write speeding tickets. States considered bills to keep drivers from blocking the left lane, but police still don’t care except when they need a pretext to make a traffic stop. States considered bills to ban touching a phone while stopped at a light.

President Trump came into office with plans for the hugest infrastructure spending project America had ever seen. We’re still waiting for Congress to decide which lobbyists are going to be rewarded. There’s been no real change yet for drivers under the Trump administration, but we may see relaxed fuel economy rules in a few years depending on lawsuits.

Arkansas officials agreed to raise some speed limits if there aren’t too many complaints. A prosecutor shut down a speed trap.

A Connecticut law went into effect requiring the DOT to violate disability laws. The law requires the so-called “dynamic” (tilted) wheelchair symbol to be used instead of the standard (upright) symbol. FHWA had previously ruled that the dynamic symbol was illegal on traffic signs and Connecticut DOT had been warned not to use it. If you see any nonstandard wheelchair symbols on parking signs, with the symbol tilted instead of upright, tell the Connecticut division office of FHWA.

Also in Connecticut, politicians want to shut down rest areas to save money. Currently the indoor restrooms at the busy rest areas on I-84 east of Hartford are closed most of the time.

A town in Indiana replaced its police force because the old officers ticketed too many residents.

A new Idaho law allows people to exceed the speed limit by 15 mph to pass on a two lane road.

Indiana bill SB 2036, which would have raised the speed limit to 75 mph, died.

Iowa DOT’s order to shut down some Interstate speed cameras stood up in court. Both city and state statistics show the highway is better off without them.

In Louisiana it seems to be legal, and expected, to pay a bribe to fix your ticket.

Massachusetts finished conversion to open road tolling and now records the travel history of every car that uses a toll road. Massachusetts and some other states want more tolls and more surveillance systems to collect them. More Massachusetts towns lowered speed limits to 25 mph because 25 is less than 30.

Michigan raised some speed limits, but not as many as it could have. A new law shifts the burden to cities to have an official record of how each speed limit was set. This is meant to push cities into compliance with a 2006 speed limit reform law.

In Missouri, the city of Palmyra got caught using its speed trap for extortion. Literal Hobbs Act extortion, not just figurative exortion. Other cities had the same policy but didn’t get caught. In Missouri it is not legal to pay a bribe to fix a ticket. This law went into effect as a result of the Ferguson riots.

Ohio DOT now reduces the speed limit on I-90 near Lake Erie in the winter. The Ohio Supreme Court ruled again that speed traps are a constitutional right. Ohio police used misleading statistics to lobby for speed limit reductions.

Oklahoma DOT defied a law requiring speed limits to be justified by engineering studies.

The Oregon attorney general conceded that doing math is not illegal and agreed not to fine a man for opposing red light cameras.

The Pennsylvania Senated voted 46-3 in favor of a bill allowing local police to use radar. Under current law it is difficult for cities to run speed traps.

Rhode Island is getting closer to expanding tolls.

Nevada DOT agreed to a small speed limit increase to keep the legislature off its back. Nevada DOT also admitted a policy of not having engineering studies to justify speed limits.

In Virginia, decades of preparation paid off for toll road companies as tolls rose up to $44 to drive on I-66.

A Washington DOT engineer complained that drivers weren’t obeying when he pushed a button to change a sign to order them to slow down.

Maybe if Washington DOT listened to the people more, the people would listen to the DOT more. Strike “Washington”. If government in general had a policy of respecting drivers, drivers would respect government’s rules.

I predict in 2018 that will not happen.

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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