Stop driving properly

Police in Newton, Massachusetts have a new web site showing causes of accidents on city streets. Somebody didn’t get the memo about progressive transportation slogans. First, they use the plain English word “accident” instead of the newspeak “crash.” And they put speed were it belongs, 19th out of 21 causes. Including maps, it’s a useful compilation of data, and totally lost on city planners who have made traffic obstruction the cornerstone of city transportation policy.

The results are similar to New York’s. Not paying attention causes one third of accidents. Failure to yield comes in a distant second. Speed, sleeping, and driving the wrong way bring up the rear with half a percent each.

“No improper driving” is six times as common as “speed.” I’ve seen this inversion in other accident statistics. If one third of fatal accidents are “speed-related” and more than one third of drivers speed, speeding is safer than obeying the law.

Maybe police understand this even if politicians don’t. The Newton police union successfully sued to stop ticket quotas. You can lead a horse to a speed trap, but you can’t make him ticket.

At a recent meeting in another town a traffic committee member observed when pulling out of a particular road he had to quickly accelerate to 40. Which is true. I make that same turn and you want to get up to traffic speed quickly. But the speed limit is 35. Nobody except me connected the dots and concluded the 35 mile per hour speed limit is too low.

They’ll never raise it unless you put a writ to their head. The latest fad is bicycle friendliness, and it’s not real bicycle friendliness unless it includes car hostility. Following nine years of injury-free bicycling on that road town officials decided to ask bicyclists to ride in the middle of the lane instead of at the edge. Don’t share the road. Pretend you’re on a Critical Mass suicide run.

It’s the same mentality that led them to put a stop sign at a safe intersection for “safety.” They didn’t ask about accident statistics and they didn’t care when I told them. The change can only make things worse, but it’s more important to be conspicuously virtuous.

I have a list of all reported accidents in my area for the past 27 years. They have a slogan.

The opinions expressed in this post belong to the author and do not necessarily represent those of the National Motorists Association or the NMA Foundation. This content is for informational purposes and is not intended as legal advice. No representations are made regarding the accuracy of this post or the included links. Six hundred years ago accident was the neologism, a borrowing from French, while crash had good Germanic ancestry like the rest of Old English.

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