Sunday, June 8, 2008

Road Warriors

It is that time of year. Until Labor Day, the Garden State Parkway ("GSP") serves as venue for the weekly demolition derby that makes driving such fun.

Recently, the Highway Authority lowered the speed limit to 55mph over the stretch of the GSP from Toms River to mile marker 100. This appears to be one portion of the parkway that plays unwilling host to numerous serious accidents.

ET salutes this initiative. However, it is worthless without militant, zero-tolerance enforcement.

Several state police patrol units are now equipped with laser speed detection devices. If you see a trooper seemingly aiming a gun-like thingy at your oncoming car, you can reasonably conclude the officer is using laser. According to ET's research, laser is finite-accurate. More importantly, it is damned near impossible for even the most sophisticated radar detector to pickup until the motorist is within the trooper's line-of-vision.

Here comes the spoiler. It is common knowledge that troopers allow what is called "tolerance." In this usage, "tolerance" is a certain number of MPH over the posted speed limit before the cop pulls you over and issues a summons.

ET remembers our frequent use of the GSP when the speed limit for the entire road was 55. Back then, CB radios were commonplace. Ratchet-jawing motorists told one another that a trooper running radar would not chase you unless you were doing over 70. More often than not, this proved true.

A tolerance of 15 MPH above the posted limit is excessive in ET's unprofessional opinion. At the current 65 MPH limit, this means you can get away with tooling along at 80 before a cop will bust you. A quick visit to any of several highway safety websites will educate you to the facts about the perils of driving so fast in today's flimsy cars.

Why police agencies allow "tolerance" is a mystery. In olden days, the argument was made that a cushion was allowed motorists to compensate for the inherent inaccuracies of speedometers. ET thinks that excuse is pure bull.

Today's cars have far more precise technology. If you own a GPS device that shows your speed, try comparing it to your speedometer. ET's experience is that they match up most of the time.

Want cars to slow down, Governor Corzine? Then order your troopers to bust anybody who does more than 3 MPH over the limit. If they say their speedometer is defective, then scrape off the inspection sticker until it is fixed.

Next item. Ever notice how driving a car on a high-speed road becomes an extension of the male genitalia? Otherwise mild-mannered folk become insatiable maniacs when they take to the super slab. Tailgating so close that you can see the ring in their nose, these idiots place their life at risk as if to declare that they welcome the thrill of a collision that will maim or kill them.

Hell, if you want to kill yourself, ET invites you to have a good time. But you do not have a right to take innocent folks along with you. Grow up and act your age.

One group of idiots that stand out in the crowd are the weekend warriors who buzz along at breakneck speed on these racing motorcycles with the balloon tires. These moronic imbeciles bend down low and goose the throttle so they can show off for other motorists. They sneak up on your rear bumper and then shoot in between two moving cars so they can display their prowess.

While ET does not suggest that all motorcyclists are irresponsible (some are damn fine drivers), this group of dumbbells make Hopeless Hartman look competent by comparison. We don't know about you, but we could care less if one of them dumps their bike when showing no concern for the safety of others. Yes, we mean that.

If you want to be a Road Warrior, buy a video game.