By NMA President, James Baxter
The State of Virginia is lamenting the fact that the state’s highway fatalities are on track to reach one thousand traffic-related deaths. Bringing this into sharper focus were the 16 fatalities that occurred over the Thanksgiving holiday period.
These fatalities occurred despite the deployment of 75 percent of the state police force and the issuance of 21,000 traffic tickets.
They just don’t get it.
Clogging the highways with “quota-charged” state troopers intent on issuing tickets hasn’t, and never will, reduce traffic accidents.
If Virginia, or any other state, wants to reduce holiday traffic accidents, here are four alternatives to the routine ticket frenzy that will actually serve the traveling public:
1) All active construction zones should be optimized to boost their vehicle carrying capacity.
Any construction activity that can be curtailed or reduced should be adjusted accordingly. Wherever possible, construction zone speed limits should be returned to the normal speed limit for that section of highway.
2) Be visible, but resist the temptation to chase, stop, and ticket.
Instead, be ready to instantly respond to any emergency. All remaining enforcement activity should be focused on persons that are interfering with the normal flow of traffic. This includes drivers who are blocking traffic while lounging in the passing lane or driving recklessly.
3) Contract with towing companies charged with the responsibility to remove disabled and accident involved vehicles as quickly as possible.
The towing to the nearest exit or parking area should be without charge. This can easily be accomplished by using the funds previously allocated to overtime pay for extra patrol officers focused on ticketing.
4) Publicize and, if necessary, subsidize “safe ride home” programs for persons who have over-celebrated the holiday.
Save the moralizing for another venue and focus on getting people home safely.
In other words change the emphasis from “threaten, enforce, punish, and penalize” to “accommodate, assist, guide, and educate.”
Then we’ll see the holiday travel fatality numbers move in the right direction, downward.