In Praise of Traffic Tickets
Is more or less the theme of my latest column at Slate.
Coincidentally, reader Lucas had this morning sent me a horrifying story from the Atlanta Journal Constitution about a young Nepalese girl, having just arrived in the U.S., who was struck by an SUV driver who illegally passed a MARTA bus.
One particular passage stood out:
A Clarkston police officer parked on the shoulder of Ponce de Leon Avenue witnessed the accident, Scipio said. The officer had just written six tickets to other drivers for passing on a double line and he was about to go after Armwood when Sukmaya was hit.
Scipio said Armwood saw the patrolman on the side of the road and “he still passed another vehicle.”
I haven’t seen the link between enforcement and public health made quite so painfully clear and close as this example. But it raises an obvious, if often overlooked point: A majority of crashes are not only “human factors” related, but involve some traffic violation, whether speed, failing to signal, etc. — and violations are, as has been discussed in the literature (here for example), clearly different (and clearly more dangerous) than errors (though the press tends to lump both under the rubric of “accidents”). The issue here is not simply ticketing drivers (though I’m all for doing far more of that, and with more meaningful penalties), but taking more strenuous measures against those who seem to have a knack for racking them up (and often, inevitably it can seem, going on to do greater damage).
This entry was posted on Friday, August 28th, 2009 at 1:30 pm and is filed under Traffic safety. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.