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Thread: Cops, criminals -- and the rest of us

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Cops, criminals -- and the rest of us

    Cops, criminals -- and the rest of us
    By Eric Peters
    for immediate release

    Most people go about their lives without ever committing a crime -- so why do so many of us fear (and even loathe) the police? Simple -- we're in constant peril of being pulled over for "speeding" -- or some other manufactured "violation" of the traffic code. Often, the "violation" has little, if anything to do with whether we were driving safely or not -- and we come to resent the police for hassling us.

    Speed enforcement as it functions today is the biggest single problem. Limits are routinely set 10-20 mph lower than the natural flow of traffic - a practice that transforms virtually every driver into a "speeder" -- and makes almost every driver vulnerable to an expensive fine and DMV "points" on his or her driver's license.

    Speed limits are sometimes set so unreasonably low (for example, the old "double nickel" 55-mph highway maximum that Congress finally repealed in 1995) that the only way to keep within the letter of the law and avoid being at risk for receiving a piece of payin' paper is to constantly ride the brakes -- which creates an angry conga line of motorists stretching back half a mile or more and interrupts the smooth flow of traffic. This is unnerving, unnatural -- and unsafe. It creates needless back-ups and bottlenecks, cars jostling for position and so on.

    Most of us simply ignore the sign and drive a little faster, keeping up with the flow -- and hoping there isn't a radar trap lurking ahead.

    When we do get caught -- which inevitably happens every few years as the odds begin to work against us -- most of us have an instinctive sense that we've been abused by the system -- that we weren't driving unsafely and simply had the bad luck to be in the wrong place at the wrong time -- picked out of the crowd by a radar gun. We rarely feel we deserve the fine.

    Quite the opposite.

    Result? Many, probably most of us, have come to view traffic cops as little better than armed tax collectors deployed to fleece motorists for the benefit of state/local government on the shabbiest of pretenses.

    But it's bad news to create a system that fosters such a hostile and needlessly adversarial relationship between police and ordinary citizens -- who should be the strongest natural allies of the police, with great respect for what they do.

    Fixing the system -- and restoring a mutually respectful relationship between the average citizen and police will require a sea change in attitudes and a shift in enforcement that focuses on identifying bad/dangerous drivers and getting them off the road -- not on "revenue enhancement."

    Some steps in the right direction would include:

    * Eliminate money-raising as a factor in traffic enforcement by enacting a law that directs all funds raised via traffic fines go to some third party purpose such as a charity -- not to fund state/local government. This removes the financial incentive to use police as tax collectors.

    * Set reasonable traffic laws. No more arbitrary or artificially low speed limits. Speed limits should be set by highway safety engineers in accordance with the 85th percentile rule -- that is, within 10-15 mph of the natural, normal flow of traffic on a given stretch of road. Generally speaking, highway limits of 75-80 mph would be within this range, conform to the natural flow of traffic -- and put most drivers out of reach of the highway radar trap.

    * Shift the emphasis from enforcement of "technical fouls" such as driving faster than a posted limit to targeting objectively dangerous driving. Instead of sitting by the side of a road running radar, use police to actively patrol the roads looking for drivers creating a hazard. That includes tail-gaters and left-lane hogs -- two groups that create more problems onthe road than "speeders" ecer did.

    * No more "points" or "fines" for "violations" that have nothing to do with the traffic safety - for example, violation of carpool lanes or failing to "buckle up." Traffic fines/DMV points against ones driving record should be assigned only for actions that endanger others.

    Just a few suggestions.

    It's doubtful they will ever be implemented, of course -- but they could go a long way toward fixing the currently corroded and corrupt system that makes unnatural antagonists of two groups that ought to be on each other's side.

    END

  2. #2
    Senior Member Kwozzie1's Avatar
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    Re: Cops, criminals -- and the rest of us

    Eric

    Set reasonable traffic laws.

    I'll second that. When I first moved up here from VIC, I was stopped by a cop, he asked to see my license as he could not match my QLD registered scooter to a license....reason..I still had a VIC license. I knew I had to change it but thought it was a 6 month period. Cop fined me $150 and said I no longer had a license..I got a QLD one that day.. As he handed me the fine I said " Guess you have to help keep slippery Pete in power" referring to the Premier Peter Beattie.... It went straight over his head...so much for Queensland bight "The Smart State"

    Rex
    Rex
    On the Sunshine Coast, in the Sunshine State Queensland (QLD), Australia

  3. #3
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Cops, criminals -- and the rest of us

    Hi Rex,

    It's just that sort of thing that turns people off to police - and legitimate traffic/safety enforcement. Good judgment (onhis part) would have been to send you away with a warning to take care of the license - not a $150 fine. But then, that would have left you with money or your pocket - instead of making a contributition to the coffers that pay the cop's salary...!

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