On June 12, I wrote a blog titled “Speed and the Cost of Fuel”. On June 15, the WSJ writer wrote “Almost 1000 people die each month in speed-related vehicle crashes. Speed is a factor in about one-third of all fatal crashes examined by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The agency looked at speeding related crashes and deaths from 1983-2002. Speeding is one of the most prevalent factors contributing to traffic crashes”.
On approximately 6/15/05, the USA Today said “Speeders’ 5-10 mph “free pass” cost lives, report says. This cushion is hampering law enforcement efforts to curb speeding, said the report by the GHSA. The number of speed related deaths is not declining despite major safety improvements in vehicles in recent years; speeding is a major factor in about one-third of the 42,000 traffic deaths a year in the USA. If we are going to reduce the carnage on our roadways, speeding must be given the same level of attention that is given to driving while impaired”.
The GSHA (Governors Highway Safety Association) calls for expanded use of radar guns, red light cameras and other equipment to nab speeders. I agree because the use these controls will save in 6 months more lives than have been lost to date in Iraq.
I have recently contended that most State and County Budgets could be balanced by enforcement of our driving laws. More safety officers would be needed but the revenue would offset the additional costs. On Thursday at a County Board meeting I said I would probably never vote for a law to restrict the use of cell phones while driving. I no sooner left the courthouse than a SUV with the driver’s ear pinned to a cell phone, made a left hand turn right in front of me without even a turn signal blinking. Two miles later,, same thing. Up on War Memorial, someone in a line of cars decided to let someone trying to make a left hand turn in and the cell phone glued ear driver disregarded the second lane of moving traffic and darted through the first lane opening narrowly missing moving cars in the second lane very nearly causing a chain reaction accident. (I hit a Tracker making a quick illegal left hand turn at the corner of University and Merle. The Tracker rolled over with all occupants’ suspended head down in their seat belts. While the driver was issued a ticket, the driver’s action threatened the well being of a small child and another adult.
Now I am again thinking that all phones should be banned from use while a vehicle is in motion. (Unless personal safety caused the need to use a cell phone). Laws have already been passed in some states banning the use of cell phones while driving. Some local law enforcement officers agree. I know that people driving with kids and animals in their laps should be cited and in case of an accident, all fines should be at least tripled.
On June 20, an article appeared in County New stating that “for the year 2002, more than 60% of fatal accidents, 25,849, occurred on County or rural roads. (Roadways in areas with populations of less than 5000). A focus group has been formed to build and improve the dialogue between the Federal Highway Administration. The idea is to pave the way for a partnership that would support the nation’s counties as they work to solve highway safety challenges. One obstacle is that County governments do not have the right-of-way authority to address safety issues on federal lands. Another obstacle is that not enough money is earmarked for safety improvements”.
As a County Board member I have asked why we pass speed limits if everyone ignores them. If our sheriff can present to the budget committee on which I sit, a plan to better enforce traffic safety laws in Peoria County, he will get my attention.