Do Traffic Laws Keep Us Safe?
Have you ever been pulled over by a police officer and given a ticket?
It doesn't take much.
Let's explore one of the common reasons that drivers receive tickets: In all 50 states, 'reckless driving' is seemingly an arbitrary violation that any officer can give any time, for anything they consider ‘reckless’. It is then up to a judge whether the driver receives a fine, suspension/revocation of licensure, jail time, or any combination of them. In almost every single state, a reckless driving conviction gives you a permanent criminal record. It is easy to see how having a criminal record can ruin someone’s future. If you drive for a living, revocation or even a black mark on your license can destroy your career.
The logical inconsistency: If a cop pulls you over for driving 90 MPH, wouldn't the cop have to drive at least 100 MPH (and weave through traffic) to catch up to you and pull you over? In states where 80 MPH is considered reckless driving automatically, how is the cop not automatically guilty of super-reckless driving for catching up to you?
Some arrogant cops claim that they are trained so well that they are capable of safely driving more aggressively and faster than any of us peasants. If that were the case, why have cops killed thousands of people in chases, including these innocent children? (I have actually done EVOC, as well as a few other emergency vehicle safety driving course, yet I get pulled over for driving 60MPH on a NYC highway)
More hypocrisy: Slow speed limits also force interstate travelers and truckers to spend up to 200% of the time driving. (NYC’s fastest highway has a 50 MPH speed limit) This drastically increases the chances that drivers fall asleep while driving long stretches, especially at night. If you've ever driven across a few states or driven any long highway at night, you understand this all too well. There is no doubt that driving 2 hours at 90 MPH on a well-lit, wide highway is much safer than driving 3 hours at 60 MPH on the same highway. Additionally, it is easier to pay attention and stay awake at moderate speeds than slow speeds. So why do police ruin your day for trying to drive somewhere safely and efficiently?
One can speculate that it's about control, or revenue, or pure evil. But anyone with a brain can tell that it isn't about safety. If the government cared about safety, motorcycle cops wouldn't ticket drivers who don't wear their seat belts. (Motorcycles are so dangerous that many of us in EMS actually refer to them as 'donor-cycles')
All of this doesn't even account for the fact that cops regularly drive while texting, talking on the phone, or using their computers that are mounted in their cars and pointed towards the driver. These cops then pull us peasants over for touching our phones while driving, and then he returns to using his computer while continuing to text and drive. Prohibiting the use of cell phones while driving also does not deter most drivers. I still notice that around 40% of the drivers around me at any given moment are using their phones while driving. I bet that you do, too. What it does do is cause them to use their phone while holding it down by their thighs instead of by the dash so as to hide their phones from police. This obviously makes cell phone use while driving infinitely more dangerous, because unlike before, now drivers who use their phones while driving can not see potential danger developing with peripheral vision.
Conservatives: Stop defending police when they regularly torment innocent people who do nothing worse than what cops do every day.
Liberals: Stop voting for authoritarians who make stricter laws (like Vision Zero) and give police more power.
Disclaimer: We at The Liberty Block DO NOT condone driving while distracted. We simply want the government to practice what it preaches and to let people make their own decisions, which ultimately keeps everyone safer. As a paramedic, Elliot is a very strong advocate for ambulance driver safety, and regularly speaks about how disturbing it is that police and EMS rarely use sufficient training/discipline for unsafe driving practices by their staff.