Sunday, September 26, 2004

I was reminded today, about the insidious traffic signal cameras that are being installed at intersections in urban areas as soon as come cities can get them installed. The official noise is that they want to lessen the occurrence of intersection collisions caused by the late car, blowing through the intersection as (or after) the signal goes red.

That's not the real reason.

Recent years, cities have increased the fines for various traffic infractions by factors of two, three and more. Meanwhile, issuing of citations for these infractions has been flagging for a lack of sufficient traffic officers to catch many offenders. No one, especially the young, overconfident driver who outdrives his skill constantly, actually expects to get caught.

Meanwhile, local money-hungry politicos, realizing tax increases can get them an early retirement, are constantly on the lookout for new ways to rip the public for more and more money. Traffic cops cost money. Even with today's inflated fine levels, not enough money is extracted from a traffic fine to satisfy the porcine politician.

The cameras are a lot lower overhead than the addition of more traffic patrolmen, giving the city officialdom a much bigger piece of the action. More offenders are caught and a bigger fraction of the fine goes into the Councilman's pocket.

No effort is made to synchronize the signals on major boulevards, causing cars to bunch up and to have to stop at nearly every signal. As personal experience can attest, the tendency is to go faster when a light turns green, in hopes of getting to the next intersection before its signal turns red. I can't begin to count the times when my signal turned green, and the next one, an eighth of a mile ahead, is suddenly a yellow.

In these times of heavy traffic, while the politicans are more interested in buying their own reelection than doing their jobs (among which are maintaining streets and highways), and while the price of gas spirals upward, traffic fines simply add insult to tortured brakes and shocks. Traffic fines that skip over Constitutionally guaranteed due process reduce the once respected legal system to the level of just another thieving gangster organization.

Now that cars are built with passenger safety in mind, many drivers have the erroneous impression that they're invincable. They take chances most of us wouldn't dare take in earlier times. The main restraint is the poor quality of the roads--going back to the local politicians stealing and/or misusing the funds instead of taking care of business.

Edicts from on high will never be an effective substitute for one's own rational faculty--if one is simply allowed to use it.

Col. Hogan

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