No one is in favor of drunk driving. Don’t do it. Now that I’ve completed the ritualistic incantation prior to writing a piece about drunk driving, let’s hit the jump and discuss the latest proposal from the NTSB.
Tag: Crime and Punishment
As the nation’s peacekeepers are learning to live without the venerable Ford Crown Victoria it is also a time to reflect on what police cars were like in the time before the Panther platform debuted in 1978 for the 1979 model year. In 1972, the cruiser of choice for the City of Lexington was the Ford Galaxie 500.
Author’s note: In order to protect the identity of the victims in this case, some names and details have been omitted or changed.
There are a million stories in the Naked City. This is one of them.
Remember the great “Road Rage” epidemic of the late- nineties? Before the media and various bureaucratic institutions jumped on “distracted driving” as the automotive menace du jour that’s going to turn our highways and byways red with blood, there was a brief period of intense focus on road rage. All of the major news shows, like Dateline and 20/20, had pieces about traffic disputes escalating from displays of a middle finger into multiple homicide by Weedeater or whatever other gardening tool fell quickly to hand.
Certainly such incidents can and do happen, although we don’t seem to hear about them as much as we did a few short years ago. However, the other side of the road rage coin can be just as dangerous. I’m talking about violations of the rules of the road in the misguided attempt to be “nice” to your fellow motorists.
For years it had been a mystery how the Texas House of Representatives, 83 percent of whose members voted to ban photo enforcement, could nonetheless endorse the use of red light cameras. An ethical storm that broke around state Representative Linda Harper-Brown (R-Irving) last month provides the answer. Harper-Brown, a Transportation Committee member, accepted unreported gratuities from a traffic camera firm in return for playing the decisive role in establishing the automated ticketing industry in the Lone Star State.
US District Court Judge James B. Zagel on Wednesday unsealed documents filed in the case against former Illinois Governor Rod R. Blagojevich (D). The 91-page document lays out in greater detail the evidence in the prosecution’s corruption case against a man charged with using his office to line his own pockets. One of the central money-making schemes alleged is a multi-billion deal to install High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes inside an existing toll road. Blagojevich announced the program in 2008.
Although independent studies have shown a link between the use of photo enforcement equipment and a statistically significant increase in the number of collisions, opponents of photo radar have produced few concrete examples of these incidents. In Arizona, the group CameraFraud.com has begun using freedom of information laws to get its hands on examples of accidents that would not have happened but for the presence of a speed camera van (view studies).
Thus far, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s war on distracted driving has been largely a rhetorical hobbyhorse, giving the good Secretary a crowd-pleasing speech topic no matter where he finds himself. After calling the situation “an epidemic,” LaHood held a summit at which it was agreed that distracted driving is bad, especially when it causes deaths. Federal employees were subsequently barred from texting while driving government-owned vehicles during work hours. And that was just about it. Apparently chastened by his big build-up and lack of pay-off on this issue, LaHood has kept himself busy with the Toyota debacle of late, leaving distracted driving largely alone since last summer’s summit. Until he remembered that there was one crucial tool in his bureaucratic bag of tricks that he hadn’t yet used: the photo op.
The Arizona Court of Appeals ruled last week that asserting one’s constitutional rights does not give police sufficient cause for detention and search. The ruling treated a January 8, 2008 incident in which Alvin J. Sweeney was pulled over for allegedly following a car too closely. Arizona state police Officer Mace Craft claimed that he had timed the gap between Sweeney’s car and the vehicle in front of him at 0.88 seconds. Sweeney had a Canadian driver’s license and was driving a rental car with the appropriate paperwork. This, and Sweeney’s nervousness, aroused Craft’s suspicion.
There’s lots of places to find old cop car photos, but I was perusing a 1953 Popular Science at bed time the other night, and remembered a story about the just-opened NJ turnpike and its new fleet of cop cars. Here are one of each of the fleet of 23 Fords and stealthy Chryslers. The Fords came with Mercury engines installed; their 255 cubic inch flathead V8s had a whopping 125 hp instead of the stock Ford 110 hp. The also had dual exhausts, “souped up rear ends”, and heavy duty cooling systems. The ten unmarked Chryslers “are capable of 120 mph”, which I wouldn’t question given their 180 hp hemi engines. Three “portable” radar timers (roadside, not hand-held) were also in the arsenal. And every trooper was trained in auto mechanics as part of the training; they would have known how to stop their runaway car.
Old Popular Sciences are a treasure trove of the bizarre and curious, reflecting American’s folksy inventiveness. I couldn’t resist scanning just two of these and sharing: (Read More…)
A pair of lawmakers want to bring a unique form of photo enforcement to Virginia. The state Senate yesterday voted 40-0 to expedite consideration of legislation introduced by state Delegate Tom Rust (R-Herndon) and Senator Mark Herring (D-Leesburg) allowing the use of automated ticketing machines to fine people up to $600 for driving on a road without a state-approved purpose. The cameras are similar to those that photograph vehicles accused of using a toll road without paying. In this case, however, the cameras would be deployed on a free, fourteen-mile road adjacent to a toll route designed solely for the use of people driving to Dulles international Airport. The owners of cars infringing the proposed law would be mailed a “bill” in the mail.
The fine city of Eugene, Oregon seems to think so. You’d think they had already heard of the famous case of Santa Cruz V. Mr Twister. Apparently not. [Hat Tip: Charles]
Speed cameras worldwide were plagued by accuracy problems this week. In Scottsdale, Arizona, a black man received a white man’s tickets on five occasions. Because this man happened to be Larry Fitzgerald, one of the top wide receivers in the National Football League, his case was received the attention of TMZ. In five of six automated ticketing photographs mailed to Fitzgerald, who is black, a white man is unquestionably behind the wheel of a Cadillac Escalade.
At least eighty-two motorists in Colorado Springs, Colorado may have been falsely accused of driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) based on unreliable blood test results. After double-checking its own work, the city’s Metro Crime Lab on Friday admitted that out of 1000 tests conducted since January, no fewer than eighty-two results were inflated above the driver’s true blood alcohol content. More incorrect readings could be discovered as re-testing continues.