It's never a bright idea to tear down the freeway at 97 mph when Nevada Highway Patrol trucks are stationed at every other exit. Simply because they are called "express" lanes doesn't mean motorists are allowed to speed and, believe it, troopers do hear that as an excuse.
It's also trouble if you are, say, a limousine driver who flies onto the interstate and sweeps across three lanes in front of an NHP trooper without once using a turn signal.
Such behavior will illicit responses like this from Sgt. Eric Kemmer: "This guy is driving around in a limousine like it's a race car." The comment is followed by flicking on those dreaded blue and red lights, which eventually is met with this response from the limo driver: "I'm shocked you're giving me a ticket."
Dozens of motorists were shocked last week when the Nevada Highway Patrol conducted another sting operation as part of its "Badges on Board" program. The somewhat controversial program, which is funded by federal grants, targets motorists who drive recklessly around big rigs.
For three days, a dozen troopers were stationed along Interstate 15 as a flat-bed tractor trailer cruised north and south. Seasoned trucker Bob Barton and NHP Sgt. Michael Branch kept watch on motorists' misdeeds around the truck, then radioed the troopers on standby.
Troopers scribbled hundreds of citations, including illegal lane changes, failure to signal, speed, aggressive driving and following too closely. Dozens were handed "crossing the gore" citations, to which many drivers said, "Huh?"
The "gore" violations are likely the type of tickets that make the public leery of such a program and help promote claims that it's a scam designed to generate an extra few thousand bucks for the state.
Motorists ticketed for the offense Wednesday crossed the solid white line that separates exiting traffic from vehicles continuing forward on the freeway. It's illegal to drive over those lines, which drivers learned the hard way.
In all honesty, it appeared most of the citations were written for violations that could conceivably be viewed as dangerous maneuvers that might cause an ugly accident.
Several motorists pulled directly in front of the troopers' flatbed truck as traffic ahead slowed. Not a good idea because it takes a tractor-trailer a football field's length to stop if it's traveling 55 mph.
"You always keep an escape route in mind," Barton explained as one of the things he keeps in mind while driving a truck. "It's not a matter of if someone is going to do something stupid, it's when they're going to do something stupid."
There are also hazardous moves that are not citable offenses. Maybe we've all been in a position where we're driving along and a trucker changes lane and encroaches on our space, leaving us with two options, hit the brakes or scoot over -- fast.
I always thought the truckers were being obnoxious, and I'm not totally convinced I'm wrong. But Barton, who is a nice enough guy, said truck drivers can't see cars lingering near the tail end of their trailers. The rule of thumb to keep in mind is if you can't see the driver in his side-mirror, he can't see you either.
Opponents of the national program believe the troopers are just picking on drivers and that truckers also make stupid moves. The highway patrol said it targets both truckers and motorists.
Having witnessed the program firsthand, there is no doubt these troopers are aggressive in nailing anybody who does anything illegal on the road in front of them.
You feel sorry for the couple from Arizona who was exiting at Charleston Boulevard and probably realized at the last second that's not where they wanted to go. They were ticketed for cruising over the gore.
You could easily argue that this whole thing probably isn't great for tourism, and it certainly creates financial hardships -- penalties are determined by the court -- for locals during a tough economy. On the flip side, it's tough to ignore the numbers. In 2008, there were 617 accidents involving semi-trucks in Nevada; 56 percent were caused by unsafe passenger vehicle maneuvers.
Another fact to remember: When there are fatalities, more than 70 percent of the time, it's someone in the passenger vehicle.
Whether you're for or against the way the "Badges on Board" campaign is handled, you have to consider it probably does make all of us be a little smarter on the freeways. Unless of course you're the guy who was doing nearly 100 mph past six NHP troopers. I'm not sure there's a whole lot of hope for him.
If you have a question, tip or tirade, call Adrienne Packer at 702-387-2904, or send an e-mail to roadwarrior@reviewjournal .com. Please include your phone number.