Sometimes we just ride around and see things and wonder how come?
Monday was one of those days.
For 20 years I worked for the Office of Risk Management in the Road Hazards Section. My job was to work with contract or attorney general attorneys in formulating a defense for the multitude of lawsuits filed against the state by motorists involved in accidents.
In many of the cases, it was the driver who was inattentive or driving vehicles in excess of safe speeds or vehicles with worn tires, defective brakes or some other mechanical problem. In short, most of the accidents could have been avoided with a little preventive maintenance or by putting down the cell phone and turning on the headlights at dawn and dusk and during rainfall—and, of course, slowing down in inclement weather.
On the other side of the coin, I handled cases that presented clear liabilities for the state. These included shoulder drop-offs, rutted asphalt roadways that led to water collecting after rains which in turn led to hydroplaning, neglected potholes, missing signs, etc.
Another contributing factor, I believe, is the utter lack of logic by the Department of Transportation and Development in setting speed limits, which brings me to my point.
Driving north on LA. 1019 Monday, I observed speed limit signs of 45 mph. LA. 1019, which is a two-lane road with twists and curves, is nevertheless a major, or primary, roadway in Louisiana and is clearly marked with all the appropriate lines. But when I turned east onto LA. 1024 to cut across to LA. 16, the major north-south artery that slices through Livingston Parish en route to St. Helena, Tangipahoa and Washington parishes, I found myself on an inferior, or secondary, roadway with no fog lines (the white lines along the outer edge of each lane) and little or no shoulders. Inexplicably, the speed limit was bumped up to 55 mph.
The distance along LA. 1024 between the two larger highways is just under a mile and I soon found myself on LA. 16, a modern, four-lane highway complete with a grassy median separating northbound and southbound traffic. The speed limit on this major artery? 45 mph. I don’t question the wisdom of the 45 mph speed limit on LA. 16 or LA 1019. But 55 mph on this narrow road? Insane.
LA. 16 (CHECK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE)
If you see irrational sights like this on Louisiana’s highways, take photos and send them along to us and we’ll post them. Be certain to identify the highway numbers and the parishes where they are located.
As if that was not enough, there is the case of the two Murphy Oil convenience stores only 1.6 miles apart near the town of Watson along LA. 16 in Livingston parish.
The first, shown here, was selling regular gasoline for $2.38 per gallon.
Just up the road, though was this Murphy’s with gasoline going for $2.44 a gallon.
Of course, a motorist purchasing 20 gallons of gasoline would pay a relative paltry $1.20 more for a fill up.
But when considering the total amount of gasoline sold on a given day, the number begins to take significance. The average convenience store in America sells roughly 125,000 gallons of motor fuel (gasoline and diesel) per month (about 4,000 gallons per day).
Running those numbers, that extra six cents per gallon can run to an additional profit of $7,500 per month or $90,000 per year.
But it’s okay, folks. It’s just big oil trying to eke out a living—and to pay off a few politicians.