An incident on Mass. Rt. 128 this Sunday proves just how unsafe Massachusetts’ breakdown lane rules are.
Drivers illegally using the breakdown lane on Massachusetts’ Route 128 (95) this past Sunday kept police and first responders from being able to respond to a two-car crash in which one was engulfed in flames. The numbskulls driving in that lane were breaking the law. Use of that lane except in emergencies is prohibited on weekends, mid-day, and evenings. You may notice that leaves both the morning and afternoon rush hour periods out. Yes, here in the Commonwealth we allow drivers to drive in the breakdown lane on certain stretches during busy parts of the work-week. The attached video (warning -there might be a cuss word or two in there) shows one out-of-towner’s surprise at what we call normal. Of course, he is driving while videotaping and calling the breakdown lane bozos out for their unsafe driving.
Our confusing rules about breakdown lane use result in some unique hazards. The first is that when driving in the far-right exiting lane, one has to look carefully back down the breakdown lane for speeding vehicles passing the traffic on the right. Nowhere else in Mass. is this the case, nor has this writer encountered that danger in an any other state. This leaves drivers with a choice. Either use the breakdown lane before exiting, or risk a crash when you try to exit.
The real problems are the bad behaviors drivers in the area learn during the commute. Vehicles driving in the breakdown lane at above legal speeds while passing cars stopped in the right-hand lane is pretty common during the rush hour. Commuters learn to deal with it. However, many of those same area drivers forget that on weekends, mid-day, or evenings, none of that is legal. Still, habits are hard to break, and seeing breakdown lane drivers passing cars about to exit is common.
The problem may someday end. Massachusetts is well into its second decade of trying to widen about 10 miles of Rt. 128. One would assume that after the project is done the breakdown lane will be off limits. It is hard to know.
Main story image courtesy of Twitter use @ScottIsaacs (Nov. 2012)