Independence police have the right idea in targeting bad driving on Missouri 291.

Independence police have the right idea in targeting bad driving on Missouri 291.

They plan to write a lot more tickets in the coming weeks for speeding, tailgating and other knuckleheaded driving on the highway between 23rd Street and U.S. 40. That stretch is often jammed full of vehicles. It’s got hills and curves, and it has a handful of stoplights.

This portion of M-291 has been a headache for years. Anyone who ever drives there – and who in Eastern Jackson County doesn’t at least once in a while? – can see that Capt. Ed Turner of the Independence Police Department has a good point when he says, “We need to focus additional attention to that section of roadway.”

The idea is to have a high-profile presence. Driver Psychology 101 tells us that just putting a squad car at the top of a hill for all to see tends to cause folks to ease up on the gas pedal, even if it’s just until the cops are out of sight. Still, if speed is the problem, a little less speed can only help. Writing a few tickets can reinforce that message, too.

The problem is too few drivers are willing to acknowledge a fundamental task of driving: Adapt to the conditions. It’s one reason for all of those multi-vehicle wrecks in thick fog. M-291 is a divided four-lane road, but that doesn’t mean it’s like Interstate 70. It’s twistier, narrower and has more traffic jumping on and off. The terrain alone screams “take it easy,” but it only takes one driver tuning out that message to cause deadly problems.