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OPINION | DRIVETIME MAHATMA: Motorists messaged by the book

by Frank Fellone | February 13, 2021 at 7:53 a.m.

Dear Mahatma: Seems to me that the Highway Department could use those message boards for more and better messaging, rather than the same old things. -- Slightly Grumpy

Dear Slightly: The last message we saw, on Wednesday, told drivers the Interstate 430 bridge closure was postponed for inclement weather. Instead of this very moment, it's next weekend. Good call. Looks icy out our kitchen window.

In any event, the Arkansas Department of Transportation knows those as Dynamic Message Signs, or DMS.

Speaking of the same old things, ArDot tells us it has an actual policy to guide the use of the signs, a policy that follows the dictates of the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices. Yessir, the good old MUTCD.

Examples include "accidents ahead, blocked lanes, stalled vehicles, vehicle fire, full road closures, partial lane closures, seek alternate routes, ramp closed," and of course the Morgan Nick alerts. That's the local and colloquial name for AMBER alerts, an acronym for America's Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response Alert.

ArDot even has a TMC -- Traffic Management Center -- whose mission is to provide as much actionable information as possible using the DMS system. No doubt ASAP.

OMG! We have used many capital letters today.

To add to the excitement, we have an email from Hope, where one of our favorite correspondents lives. He writes in about message boards he saw in Oklahoma, where somebody has a well-developed sense of whimsy: "Don't go fishing for a ticket. Slow your speeding bass down."

Vanity plate seen in Russellville: UR2CLSE.

Good Morning: I totally understand slower traffic should stay to the right, especially driving 10 or more mph slower. Here's the rub. I generally drive the posted speed limit or one or two mph faster and move over for faster vehicles. But when I'm in a construction zone and driving the posted speed limit, why is it my obligation to move right for people wanting to break the law by speeding in the construction zone?-- John

Dear John: You present an interesting wrinkle regarding the state law that tells motorists not to cruise in the left lane of a two-lane interstate highway if someone wants to pass. Maybe it's a conflict, not a wrinkle, with the state law that requires trial judges to effectively double the fines when a driver is convicted of a moving violation in a construction zone where workers are present.

Please note a moving violation is more than speeding. Our reading of the law revealed at least 24 different moving violations for which fines could be doubled.

But maybe there is no conflict. Our advice is to do what's safe, while not playing traffic vigilante. In other words, move over when the move can be done safely, while realizing that it's the job of law enforcement to, well, enforce all the pertinent driving laws.

Aye, there's the rub, Hamlet's reference to a crucial difference.

Vanity plate in Little Rock: XQQQQME.


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