The State of Louisiana has taken the dreaded word problem from math class and turned it into a traffic law.  You know the one -- if vehicle A is traveling west at 35 mph and...(do I have to do the rest)?

However, getting this word problem wrong could earn you a traffic ticket:

If a car enters the Atchafalaya Bridge on I-10 in Louisiana and travels the entire length of the 18-mile bridge traveling the speed limit throughout, which is 60 mph, how many minutes will it take for the car to go from one end of the bridge to the other?

The answer is 18 minutes.

Now, I've traveled that stretch of highway between Lafayette and Baton Rouge many times.  On some of those trips, I have seen vehicles zip past me in a blur.  They probably make the trip across the bridge in less than 15 minutes.  Then, there are those days when a stalled vehicle or wreck happens and it takes 18 minutes to go 18 feet.

Recently, Louisiana lawmakers gave their okay to Senate Bill 435, which Governor Edwards has signed into law.  The overall intent of the law is to make that stretch of highway safer.  One of the provisions to help make that happen is to use cameras and math.

As you enter I-10 Atchafalaya Bridge from the westbound or eastbound lanes, a traffic camera will log a picture and time stamp of your vehicle.  Then, as you get to the end of the bayou bridge, another camera will do the same.  If you make that trip in less than 18 minutes, you'll be going over the posted speed limit.

The title of this post indicates crossing the bridge in 17 minutes or less. I can't speak for the leniency that will be given with this new law, but usually we motorists get a 4-5 mph tolerance, right? If you cross the Atchafalaya Bridge in 17 minutes, your average speed is 63.5 mph; cross it in 16 minutes and you can take that up to 67.5 mph.  Just for grins, if you're going 80 mph throughout the entire length of the bridge, you'll cross it in 13 1/2 minutes, and you should definitely be looking for some correspondence in the mail from the State of Louisiana.

Speaking of fines, another provision of this new law is to designate the Atchafalaya Bridge as a highway safety corridor.  That means traffic fines will cost you double.

This law is set to go into effect on August 1, 2022. So, next time you're heading to New Orleans or Orange Beach or Orlando, you may want to be very observant of your speed when you're traveling over the swampland on the Atchafalaya Bridge.  Otherwise, you might be faced with another word problem that is based on where you're going to get the money to pay a hefty fine.

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