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Traffic Laws

Old 08-15-2004, 11:36 AM
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Traffic Laws

saw this on another forum and thought I'd post it up

Just because it's "the law" doesn't mean it's right--or even sensible. While we may have no choice but to obey--or risk a ticket--that doesn't make bad traffic laws any more worthy of our respect. Here are a few that ought to be on the other end of a piece of payin' paper for a change:

No right on red:
This is a form of idiot-proofing designed to protect overcautious, under-skilled drivers with poor vision and a weak sense of spatial relationships--the kind who need both lanes to be totally clear for at least a football field's length before they feel confident enough to make the turn. Meanwhile, everyone else gets to stack up behind the piece of arteriosclerotic traffic plaque clogging up the road, awaiting the fleeting green light that's also timed to coincide with pedestrian right-of-way on the opposing cross street--meaning only a handful of cars may get through before it goes red again. Instead of dumbing down the roads to accommodate dumbed-down, least-common-denominator drivers, why not encourage better driving--and encourage those lacking the basic skills to perform maneuvers (such as safely pulling into an intersection without the aid of a green light) to let someone else do the driving for them?

Midnight red:
It's 2 o'clock in the morning and you come to a red light--which stays red for what seems an eternity. You sit and sit and sit--even though there isn't another car around for miles. Sometimes, the light even cycles without giving you the green. Of course, if you become exasperated and run the light--even after stopping completely to make sure it's safe and the way is absolutely clear--it's guaranteed they'll be a cop nearby, burning the midnight oil just for you. In Europe, where sensible traffic laws are more the rule than here, many signaled intersections switch over to flashing yellow--"proceed with caution"--after a certain hour. It's a custom we should definitely import.

No left at light:
Cousin to the no-right-on-red rule, this is the one where you find yourself at an intersection wanting to make a left turn across an opposing lane of traffic onto a side street. But instead of a "yield-to-oncoming traffic" green--sensible policy--you're stuck with a red light made just for you, on the assumption you've got inch-thick cataracts--and the ability to judge the speed and distance of oncoming traffic of Mr. Magoo. You're supposed to wait patiently for the green arrow--even when there's no oncoming traffic at all, and you could literally get out and push the car safely across the intersection. Like "no right on red," it's a well-intended law designed to protect the worst drivers out there from their own marginal skills and poor judgment--but the more idiot-proofing we do, the more idiots we'll have behind the wheel.

Under-posted speed limits:
Speed limits are not supposed to be random numbers picked at whim by a government bureaucrat--or a revenue-minded police chief. They're supposed to be done according to traffic surveys that indicate an appropriate speed range that balances safety with the goal of smoothly flowing traffic traveling at a reasonable pace for a given stretch of road. (The formal traffic-safety-engineering term for this is the so-called "85th percentile speed.") Yet we've all encountered what amount to obvious speed traps--the classic example being a broad, two-lane divided road posted at a ridiculous 25 or 35 mph instead of the 45-50 mph everyone's driving. Either we're all reckless maniacs--or the speed limit is set absurdly low for the road. Common sense says it's the latter--and that roads with under-posted speed limits like that are designed to be "revenue enhancers" for the local constabulary. But this sort of thing only creates antagonisms between the otherwise law-abiding public and the police--whose motto should be "To Serve and Protect," not "To Harass and Collect." Genuinely dangerous drivers should be aggressively targeted; but using the law to extract the "motorists' tax" from unwary drivers is an altogether different matter.

Primary enforcement:
This is the name given to laws that give police the authority to pull a motorist over simply for not wearing his seat belt. Bad boy! The question, though, isn't whether it's prudent to buckle up: Of course it is. Rather, it's whether failing to wear a seat belt qualifies as a "moving violation" under any sane interpretation of the English language--and whether it's the proper business of law enforcement to protect us from ourselves. What's next--random blood-pressure and cholesterol checkpoints? Are they going to begin issuing cops calipers to measure our body-fat ratios? Not wearing a seat belt may indeed increase one's chance of injury or death in the event of an accident, but the law should concern itself only with whether our conduct affects the safety or well-being of other drivers. Therefore, turning on the flashing lights and pointing Glocks our way for this "violation" is completely over the top--and ought to be halted.

Sobriety checkpoints:
In the name of law and order, we've come to accept the idea of being randomly stopped, questioned, and made to produce ID--rigmarole that would be familiar to the citizens of Berlin in 1940 or Moscow in 1970. "Your papers, please!" is not what America is supposed to be all about. The goal of getting drunks off the road is beside the point. We could also catch more tax cheats by giving the IRS power to conduct random audits--and so on. The ends are not supposed to justify the means--no matter how many tears are jerked by moms who've become politically active. By all means, stop and check out any driver who appears to be weaving, driving erratically, or otherwise giving good reason to suspect he may be liquored up. It's called probable cause--something Americans used to be fiercely protective of. But leave the rest of us alone and free to go about our business until we've given good reason to warrant a closer look.
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Old 08-16-2004, 09:10 AM
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I didnt have the chance to really read the whole thing but I did skim through it..Those laws do need to be altered..exept for the one about "no right on red." To get around I walk..and everytime I come to an intersection, some stupid crazy driver almost runs me over turning..It does get annoying..and then they blame ped. for getting killed. I'll comment later when I get the chance to really read it...

Edit: Now that I have thoroughly read it, there are a lot more that need to be added to this...But those no u-turn signs **** me off..and those "left only"

Last edited by SnickersGirl; 08-16-2004 at 12:34 PM.
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Old 08-16-2004, 11:16 AM
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Those barely touch the subject of "dumb laws"... great read though...
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Old 08-16-2004, 11:40 PM
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as far as checking the midnight reds out,,, if you are really certain that nobody is around for miles but somehow there is a cop there to catch you... apparently you missed something, if you were right then you will get away just fine.

I do agree that intersections should turn into 4 way stops late at night tho.
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Old 08-17-2004, 02:36 AM
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around here most 4 way intersections do go into the flashing mode so I guess I can't complain about that
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Old 08-17-2004, 08:20 AM
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lol..there is no such thing as a flashing mode that i've seen around here...Unless im just not out at 3 in the morning?..Anyway...Not everyone is as lucky..I still want a sonic here..
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Old 08-17-2004, 10:20 AM
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Originally posted by SnickersGirl
..Anyway...Not everyone is as lucky..I still want a sonic here..

protest, let them know your rights to have a sonic in your town
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Old 08-17-2004, 12:40 PM
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you know, that "all lights go to flashing yellow at night" thing... it sounds so perfect for my area... there's certain lights that take forever to change after like 9pm... I take other freeway exits just to dodge those dumb lights
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