You’re usually not supposed to do it, but sometimes you can. We’re talking about driving in the breakdown lane. But when it’s allowed, is it a good idea?
Marie from Tewksbury asks on our curiosity Web page: “Why driving at high speeds in the breakdown lane is allowed?”
She calls it “An accident waiting to happen.”
Well, it’s not supposed to be that way, but is anyone watching?
“When you get on the highway sometimes it’s like jumping into the boxing ring. The fastest and strongest prevail,” says Susan who enters that ring every work day. “I see people flying up the breakdown lane,” she says.
She drives the Hanover to Westwood round trip, much of it on highways where using the usually taboo lane is allowed during rush hours. “I’d describe it as the high speed commuter lane. Sometimes they’re going 75, 85 miles an hour,” she says.
You’re allowed to drive in the breakdown lane during certain hours on parts of Rt. 93, Rt. 95 and Rt. 3. It’s supposed to help with traffic, help ease the congestion. It’s not supposed to be a speedway. “You have to be aggressive. I can handle it, but I watch a lot of other people who have a real hard time,” says Susan.
During several trips with our camera rolling we saw a lot of drivers zooming down the breakdown lane, passing other cars on the right and weaving back and forth. It’s especially treacherous at entrance and exit ramps as drivers move back and forth getting on and off. “You can not go in there and think you’re a NASCAR driver and you’re going to get home faster,” says David Procopio, a spokesman for the Massachusetts State Police, which has the job of enforcing the law on the breakdown lanes.
We asked him if he thinks it’s still a good idea to allow breakdown lane travel. “It’s not for State Police to say,” he answered. “That’s the law. We enforce the law,” he adds.
But Susan says enforcement doesn’t happen often enough. “You really don’t see state troopers driving up the breakdown lane. It would be nice. A few unmarked cruisers could come up the lane and nab some of these people and get the point across,” she says.
But State Police say they do what they can. “We’re out there, we are looking for violators. So if they’re not seeing enforcement on a given day, it doesn’t mean we’re not out there, we are out there,” says Procopio.
State Police say if you see someone driving dangerously dial 911. But other drivers say, you know what it’s like on Massachusetts roads. You’re on your own.
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