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Mufflers vs. Speeders

Mufflers vs. Speeders

The To Do list for the Hamilton police force gets longer by the minute. Now city council wants police to crackdown on loud mufflers and loud music in cars.

  Should that duty go before or after enforcing face mask wearing-should it become the law?

  Loud exhaust systems are annoying, but are they deadly, like speeding for instance? I’d rather see more enforcements of speed limits than moronic muffler music.

  Our neighbourhood was the first to adopt a 30 kilometre speed limit. It is NEVER enforced. Unless it’s by the mounted unit, because once in a while the horses come clacking down the street.

The speed limit in the North End is 30 k, it’s never enforced. It’s more likely you’ll see the mounted unit than a cruiser with a radar gun. Kathy Renwald photo

  Our street was revamped to include traffic calming interventions. These are “bump outs” that narrow the street and force drivers to weave inelegantly down the road.  No doubt this pushed some traffic to other north-south streets [and I bet those residents hate it] but it also elevates road rage.

  Who has the right-of way? Who waits for the oncoming driver to pass? The calming measures also produced a new neighbourhood sound track that goes like this- Two horn honks and a lusty F.U. yelled out the driver’s window. And, oh yes, drivers now race to be the first through the narrowed lanes, reaching maybe 60 K or more before rolling through the next stop sign.

  As I write this I am sitting at the side of the house  partially hidden by a living fence of milkweed.

  It is an excellent way to observe drivers. The evidence is anecdotal, but it seems pickup trucks are often speeding, and blazing past with those annoying super loud mufflers. Not many appear to be going to work. There isn’t a piece of wood or a bucket or ladder to be seen in the truck bed.

   But many pickup trucks are “lifestyle “vehicles. This was crystal clear when I saw the unveiling of the new Honda Ridgeline pickup at an auto show a few years ago. The special SPEAKERS located in the truck bed were highlighted as a boost to tailgate party fun!

  As a part time automotive journalist, I get to see a little deeper into the world of cars and trucks. For instance, if you happen to have the money to buy a higher end Mercedes or BMW, then

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it’s likely you will have a switch on the dash that muffles the sound of the muffler, or lets it roar so that people can see how you spent $90,000.

  Once in a while journalists get to attend advanced driver training.  This is where some of us learn how marginal our driving skills are. Driving through a pylon course, performing high speed braking, and emergency braking, quickly shows deficiencies in capability.

  On a mundane level, I see this every day on the street where we live. These bump outs leave just enough space for drivers to pass each other going in opposite directions. But because most people are really unaware how big their vehicles are they wait for the other driver to pass through-thus, traffic calming is achieved.

  The same principal of pinching the width of the street also results in unfortunate accidents. We’ve lost two mirrors being sideswiped by drivers who misjudged space. Sometimes it’s just poor judgement, other times drivers are too involved with their phones.

A by-product of traffic calming measures that narrow streets can be the loss of side mirrors. Kathy Renwald photo

  So, policing loud vehicles, while a nice dream, should come after policing speed limits, and distracted driving. As one driving instructor reminded a class, a head-on collision even at 40 k is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

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