Tag: Tolls

Some driving observations on our recent trip

A few things occurred during our recent trip to North Carolina that stand out and deserve a post of their own.

I’ll number them for easy reference:

1) Drove down using the new EZ-Pass. Because it’s portable between vehicles I had it backwards and it wouldn’t register. Flipping it around worked. Now here is another tangent – we don’t even NEED little RFID packs to ID for tolls anymore. Simply change the EZ Pass to be based on machine readable license plates. Problem solved – and you can apply it to ANY vehicle, just go to the EZ Pass web site and plug in the registration number and off you go. But I do note that many states are now doing EZ Pass Only Lanes. These don’t even tell you if the pass was read, you just fly through at 45 to 50 MPH. I love it!

2) Related to the above point I noted something. States that charge tolls tend to have the WORST roadways. I offer as example the New Jersey Turnpike and I-95 through Connecticut. The former is rutted, pock marked, and generally unpleasant to drive on, whereas the latter has highways that have a glass like surface that is a joy to drive on. No hum, drone, bump, all gone. This is the crux of my complaint about tolls: If the money collected actually paid for maintenance, replacement and improvement of the roadways it would be one thing, but that it doesn’t says legislators steal, yes I said it, steal the money from tolls for other purposes.

3) Drivers in Rhode Island and Virginia have something in common. Neither of them can drive worth a damn. The worst traffic jams going down were in Virginia. They were due mostly to gawk factor. For example, a police cruiser with cars pulled over causes a massive traffic jam. And then an accident like we saw where a minivan apparently went through a thicket of trees and came out stuffed with foliage. That backed traffic up for 15 miles. A bit of advice – just move along.

4) Cops – they are completely predictable. Mostly because a lot of cops are dumb as a box of rocks (mostly the local yokels), and the other because on long stretches of road you realize it’s impossible to patrol all of it.

4A) If you are going to speed, always try to get a vehicle in front of you that is moving faster that way they become the target for law enforcement attention and not you. So while you’re doing 85MPH, let some idiot doing 90MPh get out ahead. He’ll get pulled over first.

4B) This is the interesting part. If you haven’t seen it I suggest you watch this clip. The passenger compartment stays intact but just watch and remember this next time you’re humming along at 70MPH, 80MPH etc.

Yes that is correct. The passenger compartment may survive but rapid deceleration from 102 feet per second to 0 feet per second will make your internal organs want to leap out of your body. Not good.

So with that point in mind remember the rule of the road that you leave one car length for every 10MPH of speed. With modern vehicles with anti-lock and anti-skid you can probably get down to maybe half that. But leave space for other to merge in. And a tip, when merging in to a lane at speed, punch the accelerator pedal. Eek every last foot pound of torque out of that engine because nothing annoys more than when you’re moving at 80MPH and leaving plenty of space and some dick wad moves in doing 65MPH. Get up to speed then move in or have a car that can accelerate instantly. If you can do neither, stay the fuck out of the left lane!

It’s interesting, I mentioned this little fact to the girl at the car rental place. She had a look of shock on her face when I told her about rapid deceleration.

4C) Think like a cop. Get to know the local schedules etc. Plus if you drive by an accident scene with 4 or 5 cruisers on scene, that’s likely the entire complement for a 50 mile stretch of road.

4D) If you are going to speed, be smart about it. Look for obvious hiding spots. And if you see a cop in the median and you’re speeding just back off the gas, don’t jack on the brakes. This is especially true if you’re in a pack of cars doing roughly the same speed.

5) The most polite drivers between Rhode Island and North Carolina are the latter. For example, if you’re in the left lane and you come upon a slower moving vehicle, without having to flash your high beams, they move right and let you pass. Imagine that!

6) One of the more idiotic things is a DUI Checkpoint. Cops in podunk towns don’t get proper traffic control training and so handle it badly. RI did away with check points back in 1989. But we still get plenty of DUI’s in the state. I think cell service is so ubiquitous that people will narc on you. Plus some towns here have more roving patrols so they catch more people. Part of it is driven by FHA rules for highways. It’s also responsible for primary seat belt laws out there too. Don’t get me wrong, I agree that seat belts save lives. But here in RI we have a primary seat belt law that started as secondary, but no helmet law for motorcyclists!

7) The worst roads on the eastern seaboard are in RI.

At Last, EZ Pass is in my hands

If you’ve been reading you know that I’ve had quite the saga getting an EZ Pass out of the Rhode Island Bridge and Turnpike Authority.

A brief synopsis:

I ordered one back in early December, 2011. Now I’m one who expects things I order to get there within a few days, unless of course it’s coming from Asia. But by January when I still didn’t have my transponder I wrote RIBTA and asked what was up? I also called and was told it can take weeks for the transponders to arrive.

One phone call even told me I could go down to Jamestown to pick it up. Now as you might have surmised, I’d have to rent a Zipcar to get there, incurring an additional expense.

So yesterday I sent an email to the director of the RIBTA. That letter follows:

Hello Mr. Croft,

I’m wondering if perhaps you’d be able to help resolve an issue I’ve been having with getting an EZ Pass from RIBTA delivered to my home here in Providence.

To start, here is my account number:

XXXXXXXXXXX

I ordered the EZPass back in early December of 2011.

I’ve had dealings with staff there via email and phone with the last saying I could drive down and get one. This is UNACCEPTABLE.

Here is what I am proposing:

1) It is obvious that RIBTA has transponders on hand

2) I am proposing that you priority mail a transponder to me at:

{REDACTED}

Please let me know if this proposal can be satisfied.

I received a phone call from Mr. Croft at 8:16PM last night. I described the saga for him and he asked that I be patient until this morning so he could get the story on his side.

At 9:17AM today I got a call from Ms. O’Conner gave me two options. She could drop it in the mail, or she was headed to Boston at 2:00PM and she could drop it off. She did acknowledge that they do drop-offs on occasion.

And she just dropped it off about 10 minutes ago. So I’ll be able to use my EZ Pass on our spring trip to North Carolina.

My thanks to Mr. Croft and Ms. O’Conner. Had I known writing Croft would get the ball rolling I would have done that in the first place.