Saturday, December 16, 2006

Sharks on the Freeways

When you think about it, they're more like sharks than anything else. Any resemblance to the justice system or to the principles of protection of rights and property is....well, virtually nonexistent.

We like to think, and they'll tell you readily, that they exist to be a police presence on the streets and freeways and to help enhance your safety as you drive hither and yon. The least critical look shows that safety is not only not much enhanced by their presence, but often diminished.

I'll make the wild assumption that conditions are similar in other urban areas as they are to El Pueblo de Los Angeles, to the extent that:

  • Most young to middle-aged drivers speed most of the time, if the streets and freeways are uncrowded enough to do so.
  • Many of these same drivers are doing something else while driving, such as talking on the phone, eating, drinking, conversing with passengers or trying to control children.
  • Many drivers make hasty lane changes to pass slower vehicles.
  • Many drivers make last-second decisions to turn corners or exit the freeways from time to time.
  • Many elderly drivers have mental and physical handicaps that make skillful driving difficult or impossible.
  • Once in a while, a driver is applying makeup, brushing hair, hunting for something in the glovebox, on the seat or on the floor--and even reading(!).
  • And, there are always the drunks.

The above list, as one might imagine, includes every driver, virtually if not in fact. Indeed, at any given moment on any given stretch of road, it includes a majority of the drivers thereon. Circulating among any thousand to a hundred-thousand drivers on the streets and highways, there might be one or two traffic cops.

Every once in a while, say three or four times in an eight-hour shift, the cop picks one of the worst violators in his view and pulls him over and writes him up. It becomes very random and relatively uncommon, leaving the driver to assume it won't happen often, regardless of how lawfully or unlawfully he drives. During those fifteen or twenty minutes--more if alcohol or drugs is suspected--hundreds or thousands of other traffic violators whiz past, unnoticed. Or, at least, unhindered.

Were I not such an amazingly good driver, I'd be scared to death!

Obviously, the way local and state government is reacting to the problem isn't working.

Let me hasten to add, before I attempt to suggest a solution, that I'm not opposed to speeding, per se. I used to drive pretty fast myself, and I've observed many very good drivers who move along well above the posted speed limit. I've calmed down quite a bit because, well, a man has to know his limitations. I'm not as young as I used to be.

That, and the fact that I'm of the opinion that many younger folks have not made the connections between actions and consequences, and I endeavor to not be near these people when their luck runs out. At least, not without an escape path.

Obviously, government cannot handle controlling traffic on the streets and freeways--nothing new. While I've been saying this for over thirty years, the problem continues to grow worse and more dangerous--even as cars are built to be safer. Government, in its haste to satisfy the whims of just about every politician and pressure group spends its resources on frivolous programs, while leaving infrastructure, such as streets and freeways, unmaintained and deteriorating.

The great experiment--that of allowing government to own and operate matters of individual transportation--must be declared an utter failure and ended. Roads, streets and freeways need to be sold to entrepreneurs who can find a way to operate and maintain them while (one hopes) making a profit.

I'll leave it to others to suggest the ways this might be done, although I have some ideas, which I'll, no doubt, expound 'pon at another time. Bob Poole, at Reason magazine, has studied this stuff extensively and has made many viable suggestions.

I spend entirely too much time driving the streets and freeways of the Stalag not to have an interest in this, since I love driving and plan to continue for a long time to come.

They've killed Freedom! Those bastards!

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

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