NMA Email Newsletter: Issue #108

One Editorial Deserves Another

Member Arthur Morgan thought the NMA might be interested enough in the January 27, 2011 staff editorial of the Orlando Sentinel epaper to offer a response, so he sent us a link.

After reading a few choice Sentinel statements — “If lawmakers want to make roads safer, they should ban radar detectors,” and “What’ll persuade speeders to obey the law are some expensive tickets, points on their licenses and higher insurance rates” — it wasn’t difficult to come to the immediate conclusion, “Oh yeah, we not only want to respond, we need to respond.”

The NMA response — which was submitted within the last couple of days, making it too soon to see if the epaper’s editors see fit to publish it — follows:

The editorial tirade (“When ‘Safety’ is Ironic” from January 27, 2011) that ranged from banning radar detectors to issues of road rage and lane courtesy had a certain surreal quality. It ran on its own rage, unyielding in the far left lane, fed by not a scintilla of fact.

Radar detector users are dangerous? Who says? The only study ever done that compared detector users to non-detector users found that detector users had fewer accidents per mile traveled than those who didn’t use detectors.

Radar detector users primarily use these devices to avoid exploitive speed traps intended to generate revenue for local units of government, of which, according to our Speed Trap Exchange, there are easily 50,000 examples in the United States.

As to those innocents who like to exercise their authority, or ignorance, by blockading the passing lane on major highways: Are they sure their speedometers are accurate? Most aren’t. Could it be that way back at the end of that line of angry drivers sits an emergency vehicle trying to get to an accident scene?

How is highway safety improved by aggravating and irritating drivers and passengers in other vehicles? And, is the speed limit a product of legitimate traffic engineering surveys, or is it an arbitrary number that has no connection to normal (and safe) traffic speeds?

And, if millions of tickets, billions in fines and surcharges, and millions of suspended licenses aren’t changing driver behavior now, why should we expect that more tickets, fines, surcharges, and suspensions will?

If we start managing traffic to optimize the movement of people and goods, instead of perpetuating the current command and control mentality, we will see a real improvement in the efficiency, safety, and convenience of our highway system.

Or, we can just hang more red light ticket cameras and crank lots of ticket revenue while pretending to be concerned about safety.

James Baxter, President
National Motorists Association

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