News, schools, and views from a uniquely Lowell perspective
5th September 2009

Go the speed limit, please

posted in City Life, State Concerns, Travel |

Junior drivers (under 18 years old) must travel the speed limit. If they don’t, the consequences they face are excessive and expensive, such as losing their license and being required to retake tests, courses, and fines costing more than a thousand dollars. Yet, drive on any of our highways and you will find most adults travel much faster than the posted speed—typically at least 10 miles faster. This presents junior drivers with a difficult choice: Travel with the flow of speeding traffic and risk losing your license, or travel at the posted speed and deal with cars (and trucks!) tailgating so close it’s terrifying as they pass you on both sides, all of which are very dangerous.

My son will take the road test for his driver’s license in two weeks. This test culminates a substantial financial investment as well as months of work to become a proficient driver, knowledgeable of state driving laws. The process entailed passing a written exam to get his driving permit ($30), completing a driver’s education course ($699) that included 30 hours of classroom instruction, 12 hours driving with an instructor and six hours observing another student, as well as 40 hours driving with an adult. My husband also had to attend a two-hour parent education class. The road test, which will be held at the Lowell RMV, will cost an additional $70. All told, the process of becoming an under-18 driver in the Commonwealth requires a significant investment of time and money (about $800, not counting gas). I’m not complaining about this. I’m also not upset about the state’s excessive crackdown of youthful violators (see this post). Whether it’s speeding or unlawfully carrying passengers before the required six months, junior drivers must know we are serious about these safety rules and that violators will be punished. Yet, it is difficult for them to follow the posted speed even by staying in the right lane, where cars are entering and exiting our highways at fast speeds. When general highway traffic is travelling at 70 mph, and people are speeding by on both sides and tailgating, how are young drivers supposed to follow the rules? Unfortunately, in another example of “Do as I say, not as I do,” these driving rules (similar to attitudes about alcohol) do very little to change harmful aspects of our culture. As adults, we all share some guilt and loss in that.

There are currently 2 responses to “Go the speed limit, please”

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  1. 1 On September 6th, 2009, Cliff Krieger said:

    When I learned to drive, long ago, in a land far, far away, we young drivers lived in the knowledge that the police were enforcing the law.  Of course, the streets were much wider, so a cop could sit at a street corner and make sure that when you stopped at a stop sign your wheel actually stopped rotating—and if not, you were pulled over.  My local village Priest, who also learned to drive in California, confirmed my memories a couple of weeks ago.

    The fact that our road structure is deplorable, and because it was laid out so long ago no one is interested in fixing it (the cost would be horrendous), drivers get very frustrated and bend the rules and then slide into breaking them.  Perhaps if our Police were to hawk a couple of hot corners at appropriate times it would help to adjust behaviors.  Police on the Lowell Connector have slowed the average speed there a significant amount.

    The question is, what do we give up?

    Regards  —  Cliff

  2. 2 On September 10th, 2009, Jackie said:

    After several conversations with various lead-foot aggressive drivers I know (many of whom are close friends and family members I might add), I have decided that it is too much to ask people to go the speed limit. Instead, I would ask drivers to drive courteously with safety in mind even if it’s not safe speeds (translate to: NO tailgating). And for all those junior drivers out there, on the highways I suggest you stay in the far right lane, being aware of incoming and exiting cars, and on city streets, follow the speed limit and ignore the rude tailgators; they will pay the damages if they rear-end you.

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