By Mark Raborn, NMA Louisiana Member
For many years, my work has required me to travel extensively on Louisiana roads. During that time, I have noticed more and more traffic enforcement personnel seemingly eager to accost citizens for the slightest traffic infraction. In my opinion, traffic policing has degenerated from public servant to state-sponsored public threat, based on the lofty guise of public-safety.
I believe pervasive speed limit monitoring and enforcement along many rural and interstate highways is not vital to safety and peace in our communities. Speed limits are largely set artificially low and follow no logical path of determination. I often observe individuals driving much faster than posted limits, yet they are quite safe.
“Speed kills,” you say. I say foolish driving kills.
If speed kills, why aren’t interstate speed limits set at 35? Wouldn’t that be safer? I believe most rural roads and interstates would be just as safe if speed limit signs were removed entirely.
But, you say “If you obey the law you have nothing to worry about.” What happens when you are charged with a violation you did not commit? Do you really think you are innocent until proven guilty in traffic court? Local municipalities believe you will simply pay the fine rather than endure the time, expense and inconvenience of a court appearance.
Recently, a Louisiana State Police vehicle approached me from behind on a four-lane roadway, without emergency lights. I was in the right lane and another vehicle was passing me on the left. I observed the LSP vehicle maneuver within a few feet of the other car’s bumper. When the civilian vehicle moved over, the LSP vehicle sped away at a very high rate of speed, apparently on an urgent mission. I noted the officer’s license plate number. When I reached the next town, I observed the same officer leaving McDonald’s with an ice cream cone in his hand. Some emergency.
How many on-duty officers received speeding citations in the last year? If traffic enforcement personnel have no safe driving protocols and no accountability for their driving, why should we? Are they better drivers? Hardly. If their driver “training” is so profoundly able to deliver a higher level of safety and performance, why not require it for everyone?
As citizens we have the right to choose the laws that we, as a community, allow to be enforced. It is our collective consent to be governed that empowers the state. Traffic laws should not serve “the law,” but, rather, they should serve the citizens with an emphasis on safety and efficiency, not civic revenue collection.
Certainly, State and local police are needed, but, in my opinion, they should stay at the ready and await the citizen’s call.
Towns (like the Town of Washington, where I live) should never operate a for-profit traffic enforcement enterprise that bases municipal solvency on traffic fines. Government is erected and sponsored by citizens and it should not base its revenue projections on how much it can rob from citizens.
Besides, if current traffic enforcement methods were effective, there would be fewer and fewer citations, not more and more. Right?
It is time for Louisiana citizens to demand their freedoms and stop paying thugs to harass and take their money. If officers have time to sit along the roadways and stalk citizens safely negotiating the roadways, then they are an unnecessary and expendable burden on their community.
It is time for an overhaul and thorough review of traffic enforcement laws and procedures. There are far too many officers sitting along the roadside absorbing tax-payer resources.
In the meantime, State Troopers, parish and municipal traffic officers can best serve the public not by burning our gas and wearing out the vehicles we buy, but by sweeping, painting, mowing, picking up litter and responding when we call, pronto, and with a smile.