Not sure how many of you have ever had the experience of driving on the wonderful roads we have here in Jersey (I guess that’s NEW Jersey as out-of-staters refer to it), but a few months ago, they dropped the speed limit on a 20-mile stretch of the Garden State Parkway from 65 to 55 mph. (Not that people were obeying the 65 mph limit to begin with.)
Of course, it has to be the particular segment I need to get to and from work each day, but that’s just God having another laugh at my expense. Anyway, the argument for lowering the speed limit was that there were too many accidents along this stretch of the parkway, and that this would result in fewer accidents by forcing people to drive slower.
Well, I’ve got news for you. Nobody is driving 55 mph.
In the beginning, there was a lot of state police enforcement, and so people were being pretty careful, but that has since died off and there are plenty of days where I don’t see so much as a single patrol car on my commute to and from work. Which kinda makes me inclined to believe that the whole thing was just meant to help more revenue flow toward Trenton, but I’m sure that’s only my paranoid imagination at work.
If anything, lowering the limit has made it more dangerous, because if you do drive at 55, you run the risk of getting creamed by those who choose to do 70 or 80 while swerving in and out of lanes to get around the slower drivers as if this were a real-life version of “Pole Position” or one of those cheesy Atari 2600 games from way back.
Why don’t they just ENFORCE the 65 mph limit? At least if they did that, it wouldn’t feel like taking your life in your hands just to drive on the parkway.
An unfortunate co-worker of mine had an accident not too long ago, because as she was moving into another lane to get around someone, an SUV happened to move in front of her compact car and they wound up colliding. Her car got totaled; of course the SUV did not get so much as a scratch. Now, she fears for her life whenever she has to drive the parkway, and truth be told I really can’t blame her. Plus her insurance company wants to drop her as a result, and insurance in this state is yet another cross we have to bear, as if gas and food prices going up were not bad enough.
People sometimes say that in this country we should be more European in our attitudes about certain things — well, driving seems to be one of them, as the parkway is almost getting to be like the Autobahn.
One thing did make my day, though. One morning I was heading to work and I saw a bus get pulled over by a state trooper. They tend to be the worst offenders, as they get right up behind you, no matter what lane you’re in or how fast you’re driving. God forbid you have a blowout or have to slow down suddenly in that situation; you would not stand a chance. The buses are usually in a big hurry to get people to and from Atlantic City.
Otherwise, my feeling is, you’re better off sticking to the far right lane and staying out of everyone else’s way as much as possible. Especially with the heavier traffic now that the summer beach season is here. The old joke always used to be “You’re from Jersey? What exit?” Now it’s more like, “What car insurance you carrying?”