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road sage

I'm close to purchasing a used CB radio. I'm going to need one if I end up a fugitive in my tricked-out, souped-up, pimped-out Dodge Grand Caravan. With my CB, I'll be able to commiserate with all the other outlaws. We can keep each other up to date on all the "smokeys in plain brown wrappers" (police in unmarked cars) lurking about.

It's not that I want to be on the wrong side of the law; it's just that nowadays it's almost impossible for a driver not to be. Traffic is at its worst. You can't turn a corner without construction and this congestion leads some drivers to seek out unorthodox routes that involve making left turns that aren't legal between seven and nine in the morning.

Smokey knows this. He lies in wait. He wants to stick a big ticket on my minivan-driving butt. I want to make a 20 km/h left turn onto an urban side street before 9 a.m. It's the ultimate standoff.

At first, it was a matter of expediency. I'd hit my coveted left turn, a turn that cuts 15 minutes from my morning-by-Brueghel commute, just before nine. It's illegal, but I don't care. I make the turn and get away clean. Not an officer in sight. On another day, I chicken out and drive past and, as I look to my left, I see another outlaw, pulled over, getting a ticket for making the left I was too afraid to attempt.

Yet I can't fight temptation and now I'm locked in a cycle of criminal activity. The other day I made my illegal left and there was Smokey, but he'd just pulled over another luckless soul, so I rolled on unpunished.

This left is a lot like Prohibition – pointless and hypocritical. There is no reason I should not be able to make it. None. It's just the city trying to stick it to me. It's a trap. A cash grab. I don't have to look far to find them. No driver does.

There is a hill running under a bridge a half-kilometre from my house. Each week, there are "bears taking pictures" (police with radar) as the hill rises. The speed limit is 40 km/h, but the only way you can do 40 km/h on that hill is if you slam your foot on the brake while using the emergency brake. A few years back, I was hit with a speeding ticket at that very spot.

I was going 44 km/h.

The police officer who gave me the ticket almost apologized. He explained in detail how to fight the ticket. Look, I'm a law-abiding driver but I don't like seeing police spending their mornings as little more than uniformed tax collectors. They have better things to do.

Many of these verboten turns and twists are found in more affluent neighbourhoods. Ever drive through Toronto's Rosedale? Vancouver's Point Grey? Westmount in Montreal? The roads are public but there are so many speed humps, illegal turns and one-way streets it's virtually impossible. Do you feel like drag racing your Jaguar through Regent Park in Toronto? Go ahead. The speed limits are marked but no one is watching. But Lord help the motorist who turns left in Forest Hill before 9 a.m.

So look for me, I'll be in my grocery grabber keeping an eye out for county Mounties and smokin' scooters as I try to stay out of trouble. Ten-four.

If you have questions about driving or car maintenance, please contact our experts at globedrive@globeandmail.com.

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