Are You Dying to Get There?

Not me.  I’m never in a rush to get anywhere.  Because I want to arrive alive.

But it seems that’s not a concern for a lot of other folks.  Every day frenetic folks zoom past me at speeds much faster than the speed limit. And I’m talking about my work commute not the Interstate, where I set my speed control to 62 MPH and am usually alone.  Which I like.

I’m sure all those folks speeding past me and otherwise driving foolishly (no turn signals, serial lane changing, etc.) don’t give much thought to the probability of not arriving alive because they’re so intent on arriving at their destination a few minutes early.  Like the FSU grad student who drove his car off a Tampa Bay causeway and drowned.

His mom was quoted as saying “he always drove fast.”  Not anymore.  As we poker players who worship the probability gods like to say, the law of large numbers caught up with him, as it always will.

And to be perfectly frank, I’m glad that’s how it happened:  a single car accident which killed no one but the responsible irresponsible driver.  The faster these jerks kill themselves, and only themselves, then the safer the roads will be for me.

After September 11, the federal government got all worked up over about 3,000 deaths.  Little expense was spared to set up security procedures to minimize any future occurrence.

But in 2005, there were some 40,000 traffic deaths.  That’s over ten times the number of deaths caused by bin Laden.  But where’s the huge government effort to stop Americans from killing Americans on the road?

Or is it only bad when “furriners” kill Americans because, like jobs, that should be for Americans only?  (If so, send in your membership to “Save the Endangered  American Terrorists” to Timothy McVeigh, c/o/ U.S. Bureau of Prisons.)

But there’ll be no national, or even state, “War on Reckless Driving” because (a) govenrment is not logical, only political and (b) the Constitution guarantees the right of everyone to be an idiot.  The right to “the pursuit of happiness” is in the Constitution and Americans demonstrate every day that “ignorance is bliss” so…  (Of course, anarchists don’t believe in Constitutions so I drive carefully; at 58, no moving accidents but I‘ve been hit three times while stopped and two of those were at gas stations.)

And don’t think the problem is the Interstate and so you’re “safe” if you don’t drive on it regularly.  Most traffic deaths occur on non-Interstate roads.  Which makes sense. On the Interstate, there’s no red lights or stop signs to run, less serial lane changing, etc.

Here’s selected information from the 2005 fatality facts from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s annual report, known as the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS).  (Unlike so many other bloggers, I cite where my information comes from. If a blogger doesn’t cite the source, assume they made it all up.  Like WMD’s in Iraq.)

The top cause of traffic deaths was…no, not speeding but: “failure to keep in the proper lane or running off the road” (16,551, or 28%).  Now I see a lot of that in my hometown.  It’s infested with serial lane changers who rarely use turn signals.

Then, there’s the wackos who believe their time is so much more important than anyone else’s that they use a merge lane as an acceleration lane to zoom up in front of everyone and then force their way into the lane rather than get into it properly behind all these slower moving drivers.  They think they’re so smart, but I know it‘s probably (literally) just a matter of when they end up like that FSU grad student and realize, in their last few seconds on this planet, there’s no reboot, no “undo.”

(I never let those jerks in and they always decline my offer of a collision.  But  sharing tips from “Driving Secrets of Che Guevara” with you will have to wait for a separate post because I first have to e-mail Obama, Pelosi and Reid some tips from “Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun.”)

The second highest cause of traffic deaths in 2005 was speeding (11,80, or 20%).  I’m sure it’s no surpise that when the speeding deaths are broken down by age there is a direct correlation with age.  The younger you are, the more likely you’re going to be in a fatal accident.  The 15-20 age group came in at 38%, follwed by the 21-34 age group at 35%. My age group, of 55-64 came in at 12%.

I find it “interesting” that despite all the PR about DUI, it only accounted for 4,306 deaths (7.3%) in 2005.  That figure includes drugs.  So if you’re going to be hit, your survival probability is better if it’s by a drunk or a druggie.

All this is a long introduction to my being very pleased that my hometown finally will soon have a few red light cameras, joining numerous cities nationwide that already have them.  Including Orlando, Lakeland, and Gulf Breeze in Florida.  In Orlando, 14,000 citations were issued in the first nine months.  That’s 14,000 potential accidents because some jerk is dying to get somewhere. I’ve no sympathy for them. It’s called being held accountable and responsible for your own stupidity, whether it’s a $125 fine or a coffin.

Some will say that red light cameras are more about money than safety.  I say they’re about both.  I have no problem with a city taking in money from red light runners. Every dollar ($125 in Orlando) taken from those jerks is a dollar less I have to pay and anarchists hate taxes which are unavoidable.  I will never pay a fine for running a red light because I don’t do it.

The next step will be to ticket speeders electronically.  I’m sure as computers become smaller and more powerful, all vehicles can have some sort of transponder which broadcasts their VIN. Speed detection devices between two points will determine whether they’re speeding and if so, issue a speeding ticket. We’ll all  be safer for it.

And I don’t want to hear any “privacy” complaints. We long ago lost most privacy “privileges” after September 11 when the morons in government decided that Homeland Security could ignore any privacy to minimize another September 11. After all, flying on a private airplane through a government-owned airport is not a right, and neither is driving in a private vehicle on the government’s roads. Well, if 3,000 lives are worth that surrender of privacy, then certainly 40,000 lives are.

Like airplanes, most newer cars already have a “black box” which records certain functions and which I’m sure law enforcement can access if needed to determine what your vehicle was doing (or not doing) just before a crash. My 2007 Toyota has it.

P.S. Comrades, if you love Homeland Security, then you’re gonna love “Real ID” which is belatedly coming to Florida on January 1, 2010.  Soon, we will all have what is effectively a national ID card. What’s next: a “visa” to visit another state? (Actually, if you don’t have “Real ID”, you may need a passport to visit a national park or board an airplane)

Comrades, your privacy for your life!**  The choice is not yours. And that comrades, is the true legacy of bin Laden. Not 3,000 dead, but the loss of liberty. And we did it to ourselves.  As usual. (Retirement in Costa Rica looks better each day!)

**Homeland Security fine print: we guarantee to take your privacy; you may still lose your life to a terrorist due to our incompetence.

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13 responses to “Are You Dying to Get There?

  1. One has to be very careful about data mining regarding those speeding statistics. Tailgating and rapid lane changes at 10 mph under the speed limit on an icy, crowded road is vastly more dangerous than speeding 20 mph over the limit on an empty, straight and dry highway. But in one case, you get a ticket, and in the other case, you get a hospital room.

    Portions of the Autobahn have no speed limit, yet a 2005 study found that sections with no speed limit had similar accident records as those with speed limits.
    See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autobahn

  2. The Autobahn is like an Interstate..limited access.
    So of course it will be safer. I was focusing on city driving.

    I am highly skeptical of anything on wikipedia unless it links to a primary source. I could go in there and post whatever I want.

  3. I share your dubiety of Wiki. However, I am also skeptical of anything published in the NY Times — but that doesn’t mean everything in the NY Times is necessarily biased or outright false. (But it often is.)

    Here’s something from the Association of British Drivers …. that argues the reduction of speed in safe conditions has a negative payoff.

    http://www.abd.org.uk/speed_truth.htm

    I guess I’m the guy behind you in the passing lane flashing my high beams…. and having learned to drive in some of the worst snow and ice in the country, I’ll also be the guy getting passed by floridians during a freak snow storm. 😉

  4. Hey that’s not fair! That’s my link! You’re not allowed to use my own link to argue a point. Go find your own link. 😉

  5. It scares me to think of my young, inexperienced kids driving on the roads these days. I’d love to see some kind of electronic monitoring for the safety of all.

    I could be wrong, but wasn’t there some uproar about those red light cameras somewhere? (Maybe it was actually here…) Something about not being able to prove that the driver was the owner of the vehicle…

    • I suspect the problem with the MN law is that it was treated as a “criminal” offense since your SC talked about criminal due process. In Florida and other states, it has been classified a “civil” infraction, like a parking ticket. A parking ticket also assumes, without proof, that the owner is responsible. And, like a parking ticket, there is no points against your record because it is a civil infraction. Citation by a uniformed law enforcement officer brings points.

  6. Statistically speaking my life experience has taught me that the less time one is behind the wheel the less time there is to have an accident. Getting to ones destination as quickly as possible is always my goal unless it is not(lol). Sometimes I just like to smell the roses.

    This revelation was an aha moment in statistics class in 1965, it was the only revelation that I can associate with statistics, which I abhorred.

    The DUI statistic formula used by Law Enforcement includes all injuries that occur when alcohol is present, even if the driver(s) was/were unimpaired. Statistics can frequently be very misleading

    My own personal driving record does not contain a collision of any kind since I was rear ended by a homicidal fool on an entrance ramp in 1985. He bought his auto insurance by the week.

    Don’t ask about speeding tickets.

    My own pet peeve is a tailgater who wants to match whatever speed I drive just to have me as his “front door.” They are most annoying and actually can be dangerous because one does not always know the motivation. Last time I got a speeding ticket was because one guy was with me like glue until I hit 90 ……..then the unmarked Nissan FHP with hidden lights and tinted windows took over.

    • > tailgater who wants to match whatever speed

      Che Guevara’s tip for tailgaters is this:

      1. Do not increase or decrease speed.

      2. If tailgater fails to pass, turn on lights, so
      tailgater believes you are braking and also brakes.

      3. If tailgater is not struck in rear by a tailgater, you at least now have some distance and can decrease speed again.

      4. Eventually, tailgater will pass you.

      5. Now, you speed up and tailgate the tailgater.

      This comrades, is revolutionary justice against highway imperialists!

      Che has many more such tips based upon his guerilla warfare experience in the Cuban jungle, which is analogous to the concrete jungle of our roads.

  7. Interesting points of view however I have another. And let me tell you someone driving slow can and does cause accidents just like people driving to fast.

    The rule of thumb is you go the flow of the traffic.

    If the majority or flow of the traffic is 45 in a 60 that is what you do if it is 80 in a 70 that is what you do. When you have the majority of people doing 80 in a 70 and than you come up on someone doing 55 or 60 that is the makings for a accident.

    You go over the hill and you think the flow of traffic is at least the speed limit and than you see someone doing 10-20 miles less and your reaction time is almost nothing.

    Driving under the speed limit or under the flow of traffic will cause issues. Just as does someone doing 10-20 miles over the flow of traffic same thing.

    Why is it that a lot of accidents are with seniors who usually drive about 10-15 miles under the speed limit or traffic flow or kids in there teens who drive about 10-15 over the flow most of the time.

    Food for thought.

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