Wednesday, May 12, 2010

On Really Bad Drivers

I see some really idiotic behavior on the roads around here all the time. I never see anyone pulled over and ticketed for it, either. Some of the worst offenders seem to be rather rich and priviledged, too. Others are obviously "new grads" from the local driving school, which makes me wonder what that school actually teaches.

These behaviors include ignoring yield signs (including the implied yield on a freeway entrance ramp), cutting people off, following too close, high-speed weaving, pulling out without looking first, passing in no-passing zones, failing to dim headlights, and running red lights and stop signs. These are all basically "being in the wrong place at the wrong time doing the wrong thing" offenses.

In addition, I see slow traffic not keeping right, vehicles wandering all over the road out of their lanes, and drivers way too distracted by cell phones to even be on the road at all. That last one is already illegal under the old "failure to keep a proper lookout" law; so we don't need a new law about cell phones. We just need to enforce the one we already have.

Trouble is, the only real enforcement I see going on is speed and parking tickets (and precious few of those). I don't know if that is because it's just so easy to sit and wait for the radar alarm go off, or if it's because the lawyers and judges have so screwed up the court process that only speed and parking tickets "stick" anymore. (If it is the lawyers, then maybe Shakespeare was right.)

In Texas, under most conditions on the highway, it is "being in the wrong place at the wrong time doing the wrong thing" that causes the accidents, not speeding itself. Speed merely sets the level of damage as the accident occurs. It's only in residential areas, city streets, parking lots, and rainy, foggy, or icy weather that speed itself is a prime cause of the accidents.

So, if we were serious about reducing highway traffic accidents, we would be demanding that our police ticket the egregious behaviors (that I listed above) as higher priorities over speeding. I simply don't see that going on. As for residential areas and parking lots, that is where speed causes a lot of the accidents, and that is where speeding tickets need the higher priority.

What kind of body count does it take to get these priorities straight? Isn't 40,000 a year enough?

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