BOSTON (CBS) – I attended a wedding this weekend that required me to drive halfway across the state and back, and it was the usual summer weekend traffic nightmare. At one point, I had to detour around Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg, which is no joke.
And it gave me ample opportunity to observe the full panoply of really bad Massachusetts driving. Speeding, tailgating, gratuitous lane-changing, driving with phone in hand, you know the litany.
I can’t prove that it’s getting worse, but it sure feels like it is, and there may be some evidence to back that up. The Boston Globe reports that traffic violations are down 35-percent over most of this decade, a decline officials say is driven by cuts in the federal grants that help pay for road patrols, fewer cops being sent on traffic patrol, and a reluctance to write tickets as a result of public backlash.
Could the erosion of consequences for reckless, selfish driving have anything to do with a recent spike in traffic deaths? The experts say no, but you wonder.
Meanwhile, there has been an effort to ticket distracted drivers since the no-texting law came in awhile back, but you tell me if you’re seeing more or fewer people glued to their phones and all over the road.
What’s the moral of the story?
There’s only so much the law and the cops can do.
Until Massachusetts drivers create a culture of low-tolerance for bad drivers – and promote it through social pressure, the same way cigarette smokers became marginalized – the roads will remain a white-knuckle experience.
Oh well. At least the wedding was really nice.