AP NEWS

Blame the drivers, not the roads

March 29, 2019

So, I’m on the parkway, heading to Hartford, with the cruise control on the Honda J’Accuse set at an illegal-but-self-preserving 62 mph. Yes, the morning lemming tide in this reverse commute is breezing by me at 75, 80, 90, as if they were racing off in stolen cars.

So much for an actual public-safety law.

It’s strength in numbers out here during the commuter hours, where it’s everyone for themselves. It’s rare to see a State Trooper, the taxpayer-financed arm of the insurance industry, engaged in speed enforcement. Sightings at this time of day are almost always post-crash reconstruction, and the collection of basics for their endless piles of collision reports.

This horde brings out the inner Connecticutter, whose self awareness is only slightly less than their respect for others on the road. The state tourism people want to phase out “Still Revolutionary” as a marketing cry for Connecticut attractions. How about “Still Revolting” to describe our highway etiquette?

There’s a young woman in a VW Goof weaving in and out of traffic.

Here’s a dude, apparently tardy in emerging from his parents’ dismal basement, in a four-door Bavarian Mindless Worse, who cuts right in front of me without signaling, then rides his brakes when the attempt to slalom past another speeding commuter in the left lane fails spectacularly. Having seen this scene countless times before, I had already switched off the cruise control and prepared for the BMW’s wurst, so to speak.

Yep, these idiots are in a hurry to go to work.

Or maybe they’re heading to hook up with Interstate-91 for the sweet, straight shot up to the Northampton cannabis outlet at 7 a.m. on a weekday for some wake-and-bake action. Yeah, I’m really looking forward to more stoned, drunken driving along our pathetic roads, if the General Assembly succeeds this year in the now entirely unlikely legalization of marijuana retail sales for adults.

I want toll gantries right now. I want these people paying, and paying for making the public roads unsafe. Want to whine about it? Call someone who cares, or hasn’t seen your porcine road tactics, you in the pickup truck.

I want these drivers to pay for their smug flouting of the signs that says 55 mph. In fact, I’d rather have them cough up more to speed in the corridors away from Southwestern Connecticut employment centers, than whacking the poor sods stranded twice a day bumper-to-bumper on the parkways and interstates, in the rush-hour(s) death march to and from New Haven, Bridgeport, Stamford and Danbury. Forget “congestion pricing.” I want a danger surcharge.

Of course, a computer chip in every windshield and laser speed readers on overpasses, with sensible, mail-in speeding tickets is too much like Big Brother surveillance of the public roads, the final avenues of freedom for the otherwise boxed-up existence we lead, and the tyranny of the speeders and weavers.

Courtesy is dead. Just call the proposed-but-unspecific highway-toll legislation that the General Assembly is dithering over a bad-driving surcharge. It’s a tax. It’s a user fee. It’s a candy, and a breath mint, two freaking mints in one.

Can’t the vehicles of these speeders become stolen-car statistics?

In the Capitol, the usual suburban, starboard suspects in the legislature think the nationwide increase in swiped cars is the result of coddling the teenagers for whom the age of juvenile has been raised in recent years. The goal is to keep them out of the adult prison system until their heads have caught up with and finally surpassed their hormone-charged impulses.

There was Chief State’s Attorney Kevin Kane getting grilled in the legislative Judiciary Committee the other day. He longs for a reopening of the Connecticut Juvenile Training School in Middletown, the $56 million juvenile jail, the contract for which was given to builders with ties to John G. Rowland, the disgraced former governor. They all ended up in federal penitentiaries, and we got a juvenile center modeled after an adult prison in Ohio.

“There clearly is a problem that has to be dealt with better than we’re able to deal with it now,” Kane said in a discussion about legislation that could make it easier to transfer juveniles to adult court. He said that statewide, there are fewer that 100 kids who are incorrigible, many of whom with records of multiple stolen cars. “It’s a small number of offenders, delinquents who are causing serious problems today,” he said.

Gee, there’s a reported increase in stolen cars in the suburbs. How about locking your cars and bringing the key fobs inside? Maybe you could obey the speed limit, too. Just a thought.

Ken Dixon, political editor and columnist, can be reached at 203-842-2547 or at kdixon@ctpost.com. Visit him at twitter.com/KenDixonCT and on Facebook at kendixonct.hearst.