There oughta be a by-law

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I consider myself a pretty laid back driver. I've never flipped a bird at another motorist for cutting me off.

Nor have I F-bombed someone for tailgating, driving 10 klicks an hour on the Trans-Canada Highway, or near-missing me in the Costco parking lot.

Such incidents just don't raise my ire or rile me up, probably because I'm far from a perfect driver and I know all too well about mistakes being human.

However, when I'm behind the wheel, there is one thing that drives me absolutely rank and into a fit of road rage every single time - a backhoe bringing rush-hour traffic to a snail's pace.

Grrrrrrrr. ... Wait, let's go all-caps to really convey my frustration. ... GGGGRRRRRRRRRR.

Despite my growl, I still don't swirl the old middle digit or scream fuddle duddle towards the blasted backhoe. But my blood curdles, and whenever there's a passenger, they'll hear me say, "Look at THIS! It should not be allowed."

A few years ago, when I worked in another area of town, there was a backhoe on the route to my office every morning after 8 a.m.

I'd leave early or late to avoid being stuck behind it and going ape poop.

The problem is even worse these days, though.

There seems to be more backhoes riding the road, likely because of all the development on the Northeast Avalon, and being stuck behind one once a week or more is unavoidable.

And I'm not the only one bothered by it. The local Twitter hashtag #nltraffic regularly features 140-character rants from people stuck behind a backhoe, and everyone I speak to about it feels my pain.

No one has ever sided with the boys in the backhoes.

Now, I realize the value of what backhoes and their operators do for progress and problems. I dig it (pun intended).

Also, I'm 100 per cent in support of these hard-working guys making money - hey, I want them to all earn gazillions of dollars - but I just wish they weren't on the road in peak traffic.

And, seriously, all that frustration mounting in the long line of motorists slowed by a backhoe undoubtedly raises the risk of accidents.

It's my understanding - and I could be wrong - the traffic laws that apply to backhoes aren't quite clear. There are rules against obstructing traffic, but also against a vehicle driving at speeds that exceed its capability.

So, I propose a new, simple, traffic bylaw that should be enacted by cities and towns in the metro region - no backhoes on the street between 8 and 9 a.m.

Operators might get their backhoes up and say such a rule violates their rights.

While I agree they have rights, one of them is not the right to impede traffic or make other drivers explode.

Email Steve Bartlett at sbartlett@thetelegram.com. On Twitter, he's @TelegramSteve.

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