Putting the “Safety” back into “Traffic Safety”

Traffic laws are strange. Originally, the traffic code was just supposed to keep us from killing each other and smashing up cars. Now, it is something… different. I think the ole’ Double Nickel had something to do with this.

You remember the Double Nickel. We still have the Double Nickel some places. We tossed it out in Texas and most highways here are either 50, 60, or 70, but for a while, 55 was the Law of the Land. The original reason (the ones that never actually survive the whim of the state) was energy conservation. The Evil Arabs were cutting off our sweet, sweet crude*. We had to do something meaningless and painful, so the Federal Gummint said, “knock everyone back to 55 — that should be enough penance to the Oil Gods to get the heathens to give us back our oil.”

Yeah, and the streets became clogged with cars again, and everything was good. Except that the Double Nickel stayed. See, part of the problem was the too many people realized that the conservation argument was a bunch of crap, so they had to come up with another reason to sell it to the public. What they did was come up with some bullshit arguments that we were lowering the speed limit For The ChildrenTM. See, it is okay to limit any freedom you want as long as it is For The ChildrenTM. Apparently, The Children need every advantage they can get except freedom.

After years and years of this bullshit, the people were finally fed up. What the Double Nickel came down to was revenue. People don’t tend to drive 55. They drive a little faster than 55. By making it 55, you get to write more speeding tickets. More speeding tickets means more money in the hands of the state. It is a stealth tax. You can see this in the speed limits of various states. Less free states have lower speed limits (more stealth tax). More free states have higher speed limits (less stealth tax.) Some states have no state speed limit at all, and are among the freest states.

It doesn’t stop there. The same thing happens with red light laws. Lately, cities have been jumping on red light cameras as a source of revenue. Not only that, but they are doing everything they can to maximize revenue at the expense of safety. They are shortening the time on the yellow lights. That’s right, they are making it more dangerous in already dangerous places in order to make more money. On top of that, it isn’t even the city running some of the cameras. The entire process is outsourced to a for-profit company, due process be damned.

Something has to be done. You can’t play whack-a-mole with this. You get rid of the Double Nickel, and they go to red-light cameras. Get rid of the red-light cameras, and there will be a smog camera. The state will keep trying to find new ways to fine you as long as they get to keep the fine. That is where they have to be cut off.

That is my idea. Don’t let them keep the fine. I think that we do need some safety laws. We just don’t want the state to have a reason to pervert safety. I think that all of the traffic fines collected should all be put into a big interest bearing account, and at the end of the year, split it up and cut a check to every licensed driver in the state/city. We are the ones at risk. The state belongs to us. We the drivers are the ones put at risk by unsafe conditions created by drivers that ignore the traffic code. Give us the fines.

Of course, the state would never agree to cut a check.

(*Some of you might get the Sweet Crude joke. If you don’t, don’t worry about it.)

3 Comments

  1. Say Uncle says:

    Traffic Trouble: A must read

    How traffic laws work. Very insightful….

  2. Patterico's Pontifications says:

    CARNIVAL OF THE VANITIES #78

    Patterico’s Pontifications is proud to host the 78th edition of the “Carnival of the Vanities,” a weekly roundup of submissions from across the blogosphere. Please allow me to introduce myself. I am your host, Patterico. I am a frequent critic…

  3. PhotoEnforced.com is a database of nearly 1000 red light camera intersections around the world. There are many differences in automated enforcement laws in each state and most locations are unpublished. It is our mission to locate and track photo enforcement areas, violation trends and applicable fines.