The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

Posts tagged ‘speeding’

TWO WORDS FOR JUSTIN BIEBER

It has to be tough being a celebrity at any age – but at a mere 18 years it is probably more than most teens can handle.

A day ago, Justin Bieber got pulled over twice while driving.  The first time he got a ticket and the second time a lecture.  One Los Angeles City Councilman wants him arrested for reckless endangerment.

The young Mr. Bieber claims self-defense in that he says he was being pursued by the paparazzi.  There is probably an element of truth in that statement.

Whatever the motivation for his speeding, driving at speeds that greatly exceed the speed limit is dangerous business and so I would like to offer Mr. Bieber two words of advice:

JAMES DEAN

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GOVERNMENT CAN FUND ITSELF

When I lived in Chicago I had several friends who were members of the city’s police force.  (I met them at the local deli where they regularly had lunch).

One day I asked one of them if it was true that the city had a “quota” for how many tickets each officer in traffic enforcement was required to write each month.  Despite the police department’s official statement that “no such quota system exists”, my friends admitted that there was indeed such an animal.  (As we became more PC, the “quota” was re-named an “index”.  But as the immortal bard said, “What’s in a name?”)

The city derived a lot of revenue from the issuance of these citations and the collection of the fines.

About two and a half years ago I wrote a letter to Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman.  We were in the throes of the recession and Obama-bashing.  The unemployment rate was rising as fast as the housing market was careening downward.  I offered a plan which could both provide employment and bring in a large amount of revenue to the city’s rapidly dwindling coffers.

While I didn’t expect to be featured on one of the nightly news shows as ‘the genius who saved Las Vegas” I did expect to receive a response from the good mayor.  None was ever forthcoming.  Maybe I’ll find the original and send it to his wife who succeeded him in that office.  (Massachusetts had the Kennedys, Chicago had the Daleys and we have the Goodmans).

The plan was simple and sound.  It addressed the disdain that most automobile and truck drivers have for obeying the posted speed limits within the city.  Here was a terrific source of new revenue for Las Vegas.  All the city had to do was to enforce the laws it had already created for the safety of its citizens!

I suggested that the city hire 120 people to be called, “Traffic Speed Enforcers”.  They would be paid a salary of $50,000 per year and be assigned in three shifts of 30 around the clock since Vegas is a 24/7 town.  The extra TSE’s would fill in for those who had days off, were sick or were on vacation.  Their sole empowerment would be to arrest drivers who were speeding.

We would need to purchase 100 vehicles (10 to be held in reserve for repairs) for the use of these TSE’s.  I estimated an inflated cost of $100,000 for the purchase of each of these.

We would modify the speeding ordinance so that apprehension by radar would result in a  MANDATORY fine:  from 6 – 10 miles above the limit – $25 a mile; 11 miles or more over the limit the fine would be $50 a mile.

I assumed that each TSE would actually work for six of his or her eight hour shift –giving them time to get to their street location, to return their vehicle to the garage and allowing for a meal, breaks and relief stops.  I also assumed that they should be able to write two tickets per hour – one low fine and one high fine.

Based on these reasonable assumptions, each of them would produce $4,200 a day in revenue for the city – or $378,000 a day for the three shifts.  That works out to $138 million a year.  But let’s say that much of that is uncollectable so we’ll call it $100 million a year. I think that’s reasonable.

After one year in effect, the city should show a net profit (after having fully paid for the vehicles, TSE salaries and a very generous allotment for gas, auto maintenance, insurance and “administration”) of at least $75 million dollars.  And all this paid for by people who are flagrant scoff-laws.

I see a hand in the audience.  Your question ma’am?

For those who didn’t hear the question the young lady asked let, me repeat it.

‘“Wouldn’t people stop speeding, thus reducing the income to the city?”

In answer to your question, if that did happen we would have hit THE JACKPOT!

We all would be rewarded by being safer when we drove.   Ultimately, the improved safety should translate into lower insurance rates for all Las Vegas drivers.  That would make Las Vegas a better place to live, work and drive.

Well that’s one example of how government can fund itself.

It’s a thought.

CLICK-IT OR TICKET

Whether it’s you or the government it’s clear that we all have limited resources. In order to be a success in life we have to make sure that our expenditures do not exceed those resources. So when the “Click-It or Ticket” campaign resumed on TV, I began wondering about whether this was a good use of my dollars as a taxpayer. I decided it was not.

If you’re not familiar with this campaign – it is designed to warn drivers that if they do not wear their seat belts while driving they are going to get arrested and fined. On the surface, this seems like a reasonable way to protect the driving public from themselves and from others. But let’s look below the surface.

There is no doubt that people die while operating a motor vehicle. In 2010 almost 33,000 Americans died while in their vehicles according to the National Highway Transportation Agency’s official report. In addition, many more thousands were injured – some seriously – because of vehicular accidents. So it seems logical that government – operating in our best interest – would enforce laws and encourage conduct which reduce the number of those fatalities. Let’s examine this situation more closely.

There are certain laws of physics which even the government cannot override. One of those is that when two vehicles attempt to occupy the same space at the exact same moment in time, a crash will occur. That is true whether neither, one or both of the drivers of those vehicles is wearing a seat belt. That’s a fact – plain and simple. People die in car accidents because of the accident. At best, wearing a seat belt might mitigate the effect of the accident – but in no way does it eliminate the cause of the potential tragedy – the accident itself. Let’s put it another way.

SEAT BELTS DON’T SAVE LIVES. ATTENTITIVE, COURTEOUS, LAW-ABIDING DRIVERS AVOID ACCIDENTS AND SAVE LIVES.

You probably heard about one of the reasons for the financial meltdown of 2008. It was that Wall Street had engaged in trading “derivative” instruments. Wall Street was taken to task for engaging in these dangerous practices. 

Wearing a seat belt is a “derivative” intended to ameliorate the underlying problem. The problem is that there are a lot of dangerous drivers on the road and our law enforcement agents are simply not doing their job in arresting them – making it safer for those of us who are responsible when we are behind the wheel.

Living in Las Vegas I have observed that there is very little enforcement of the speed limit laws. And speeding is probably the most significant cause of traffic accidents. Since we have very few Dunkin’ Donuts in town, I’m not sure where the Metro Police are hanging out. They’re obviously not patrolling the streets and arresting speeding violators.

I have tried to monitor this myself. My Volvo is equipped with cruise control which I have used in order to validate my observations. It doesn’t matter whether I’m “cruising” at 35, 45 or 65 – whatever the posted limit is – I cannot go a mile without having at least 10 or more drivers pass me by as though I were going in reverse. They have to be doing at least 15 to 20 miles over the limit – with absolute impunity.

If the police are not arresting these speeders – what is the likelihood that they are going to arrest them for not wearing a seat belt? Zip. Zilch. Nil. Nada. 

So the money that is spent advertising the “Click-It Or Ticket” campaign is just a complete waste of money. But that’s government at its finest.

And there go more of your tax dollars “at work”.

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