Health and safety. I kept thinking about that alleged role state government has in my life. What a joke.

I had just cleared the top of the hill on Route 8 in Shelton, northbound maybe a half hour after the so-called evening rush hour(s) had finally subsided.

Without the arguable safety of the bumper-to-bumper shuffle, the moderate traffic was moving at the usual death-defying speeds, and this particular stretch of Route 8, in both directions, is one of the most-dangerous couple miles of highway in the state.

With 331 crashes in 2018, Route 8 is one of the state’s death traps. Drivers play bumper cars for big stakes.

Why there aren’t big signs every mile that warn of the high-crash zone (they are not “accidents”), is a crime against public safety, but it would require some wit and acumen in a Department of Transportation that seems more focused on toting up the carnage for the annual National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports than actually curtailing the bloodshed.

I want computer chips in all vehicle windshields, laser speed readers on overpasses, and $200 tickets showing up in the mail with veracity. There’s a way to pay for infrastructure projects without tolls. Of course, state legislators, not known for imagination, don’t have the gall.

In fact, the regularity of side swipes, spinouts and fatalities is evidence that death is too often not defied by drivers who, lost in a sustained moment of entitled recklessness and immaturity, too often victimize themselves and others. The latest federal crash report says the most fatalities between 2015 and 2017 occurred on Interstate-95, with 22 and I-91, where 20 people died.

(As an aside, I am thinking about the horrible wreck on Stamford’s Canal Street early last Monday that killed two teenagers and left a third, who had been celebrating her birthday, in critical condition. The car, at high speed, smashed through two utility poles.)

Cresting the hill, with millions of years of exposed rock layers on my right, the angle of the sun illustrated how summer’s winding down.

My sense of self-preservation kicked in further. Check the rear-view, spy the view on the passenger’s side, glance back to my own side mirror. Rinse and repeat, at an illegal but almost-but-not-quite safe 62 mph in a 55.

It’s a spot where three lanes, with little notice and absolutely poor signage, revert to two. During commuter hours, the self-important and entitled sneak past the backup in that far-right lane and eventually force themselves left, gaining a whopping couple hundred yards in what may likely be the only freedom left in their otherwise-controlled lives: the discretion to be a road pig.

The quest for some kind, any kind of vestigial freedom centers my theory about Connecticut’s raging speeders, piloting the extensions of their living room, blasting their music, sticking it to The Man, but in fact threatening their fellow drivers, and mocking the social contract.

A week earlier, driving southbound, down the hill, another spot where three lanes turns into two with little notice, a young man was killed in a late-afternoon wreck that State Police politely called a mystery. Speed, inattention and recklessness are almost always in the mix.

A couple days later, at 8 a.m. on a Sunday, driving my usual 62 in that exact same downhill stretch, I was nearly sideswiped by two cars whose drivers, on a straightaway no less, were paying more attention to their handheld communications devices than the road that was barreling before them at, I don’t know, maybe 80.

So, I’m supposed to feel sorry for a reckless driver who kills himself in a crash? Why?

And why are the under-staffed State Police mere arms of the insurance industry as they respond to the next wreck, and the next, and the one after that, as more people drive illegally than they can ever catch?

What is wrong with these drivers? Don’t they know that life is tenuous and short, while death is forever?

Back to my early evening drive northbound, I tensed up knowing that any cars in the right lane would have to merge. But nothing seemed to be approaching. It was going to be a clear drive down toward the confluence of the Naugatuck and Housatonic rivers.

But no. Suddenly and seemingly out of nowhere, an idiot in a gray pickup truck roared by my right, probably doing 100, in the last 50 yards before the lane vanished into mine. The wind hit my car in a wave as he whipped in front of me.

The pickup was followed at an equal speed by a BMW that rattled the warning notches on the road shoulder. Half of me was rooting for a high-speed rollover as the two idiots weaved in and out of the traffic.

It’s Labor Day weekend. Check your mirrors. Don’t touch your phone. Don’t let a road pig turn you into a statistic.

Ken Dixon, political editor and columnist, can be reached at 860-549-4670 or at Visit him at and on Facebook at kendixonct.hearst.