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OPINION | DRIVETIME MAHATMA: Law limits extra roar of mufflers

by Frank Fellone | January 23, 2021 at 8:22 a.m.

Sir Mahatma: I’ve been walking over to Chenal Parkway to watch the traffic. Boring? Perhaps, but I’ve observed some interesting driving patterns. Drivers in Chevrolet Corvettes, Dodge Chargers and Ford Mustangs like to put the pedal to the metal. And the louder the better. I don’t know if a loud muffler is a factory option or an after-market modification. I thought you might be interested in this driving anomaly. Perhaps a psychologist at ArDot can explain it. — Observer

Dear Observer: YouTube has numerous videos on how to change a muffler’s sound, including with a chainsaw. Heaven help us. And walk into any auto parts store for a primer on muffler modifications.

No doubt lots of modifications are on muscle cars. We would like to have a muscle car, but prefer to have a wife. Most of the time.

Arkansas Code Annotated 27-37-601, “Noise or smoke producing devices prohibited,” advises that motor vehicles shall, at all times, have a muffler in good working order and constant operation “to prevent excessive or unusual noise and annoying smoke.”

By the way, we love the idea of a psychologist at the Arkansas Department of Transportation. At least through the completion of the 30 Crossing project. Who will need a psychologist more, drivers or ArDot engineers?

Dear Mahatma: On a recent rainy morning in Fort Smith I was driving to work. A couple of approaching drivers were using windshield wipers but not headlights. That reminded me to take my Aston-Martin to the mechanic to get some adjustments on the machine guns installed in each bumper. When the mechanic questioned whether I could actually deploy this equipment, I referred him to the deadly force statute. — Tom

Dear Tom: Your understanding is that use of such force is justified when people drive in rainy conditions using windshield wipers but do not deploy “the vehicle’s lighted lamps.”

May we say three things?

First, you have apparently conflated criminal law with traffic law. Yes, the two sometimes intersect, but not up to or including machine guns.

Second, you mis-overestimate a citizen’s Second Amendment right to bear arms and use those arms in vigilantism on the roadways. Step away from the Aston-Martin, big fella.

Third, you have got to stop watching those old James Bond movies. Has there been a Bond marathon on one of the cable channels again? Maybe it’s time to go back to work.

Dear Mahatma: I noticed that the signs leading to the airport were unreadable at night three or four years ago. They look just fine in daylight but at night the white letters become fuzzy blobs. I haven’t driven to the airport at night since then and forgot about it. — Lucien

Dear Lucien: There seems to be a mini-uprising over these signs. We recommend going to idrivearkansas.com, finding the report a problem button and making a remark. If enough people do so, improved signage may be expedited.

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