What Travelers On The Basin Bridge Can Learn From NASCAR [Rant]
I took a trip to Memphis Tennessee over the weekend. In order to get to Memphis I traveled on I-10 over the Atchafalaya Basin. You've probably been on the Basin Bridge many times. Do you get nervous driving over it like I do? I'm not afraid of bridges, I am afraid of other drivers on the bridge and the crashes that occur.
As I was riding toward Baton Rouge on Friday it dawned on me what driving on the Basin Bridge is really like. It's like a NASCAR race. I am not talking about in terms of speed. I am talking about restrictor plate racing.
If you're not a NASCAR fan let me fill you in. A restrictor plate does exactly what you might think it would do. It restricts the top speed of the car that it is installed on. NASCAR mandates this speed reduction and restriction devices on the tracks at Daytona and Talladega. If they didn't the cars might travel too fast and in the event of an incident actually fly out of the speedway and into the stands. That's not a souvenir you want to catch.
Most NASCAR drivers hate these restrictor plate races because the governor on the motor keeps all the cars tightly bunched. Much like the reduced speed and the trucks to the right side of the roadway does on the Basin Bridge. This tight bunching of vehicles means that in the event of a flat tire, a swerve, a crash, that more cars are involved. In NASCAR it's called "the big one". On the Basin Bridge it's called, "we're going to be stuck here for several hours".
So, what could we do to make traveling on the Basin Bridge less like a NASCAR calamity? I suggest we keep the trucks restricted to the right lane. I also suggest that we allow the posted speed to be equal for all vehicles. Currently cars can travel at 60 MPH while trucks are limited to 55 MPH. Then I think we should triple speeding fines on the bridge. In fact, if you get two speeding citations in a 6 month period you lose your driver's license.
Have you got some better suggestions? I bet you do. I'd love to hear them. Who knows we might just make a dangerous stretch of roadway a little safer for all of us that have to travel on I-10 to Baton Rouge.