Friday, February 9, 2007
It seems one of our state legislators feels the city of Albuquerque has installed "money-making traps" at some of our traffic signals. He lives here in Albuquerque. And he introduced state legislation to force the city to put up "flashing yellow beacons" wherever there are cameras designed to take pictures of red light runners. You know, the people who cause many, many accidents in our city. He said that if the beacons were flashing, it would alert motorists that the traffic light would turn red before they got through the intersection. And all this time I had thought that was what the middle light (you know, the amber one) on the signal was for. So much for Driver's ed in high school. Like all cities, we have certain intersections that have extremely high accident rates. The cameras were put up in order to give us all more safety. So the city makes a few bucks and plows that money back into traffic safety. So what? Our police chief cites the reduced accidents at these intersections as proof that the cameras are doing their job. Our Mayor (good ole Marty) says the dough made is funneled back into the program. Imagine me agreeing with them! He also pointed out that speeders are paying for the cameras, not the taxpayers. My belief is that this state senator has gotten caught and found out that his license plate has not prevented him from getting a ticket or two. He has also failed to grasp that a flashing light will probably also have speeders goosing the accelerator more to get through the light. Bang, smash. More accidents, more injured and dead citizens. Further, a flashing yellow beacon will not improve the driver's already divided attention with his/her cell phone. In fact, it will likely just be one more distraction in our already distracted time behind the wheel.
Thursday, February 8, 2007
Albuquerque has a new ordinance on the books. A city wide rule now bans drivers from using a hand held cell phone while driving. Break the law and get caught: $100 fine, $200 for repeat violations. . The old fogies on our City Council finally recognized that if a driver's attention is diverted from the job of driving, there is likely to be a smash up. It took a couple of them to be involved in near misses to get any kind of action. The problem is that the law is not well thought out. Apparently, they decided that if the cell was not hand held it would not divert a driver's attention. I have no idea who, nor why, this was decided. We need to inform them that the issue is really mental diversion, not hand diversion. There are some exceptions, also. You won't get a fine if: you're a policeman, firefighter, or other "public safety official" if your call is work related. ROFL. Oh, one of the sponsors said that the law "is a message you need to exercise a higher level of attention while driving." And then, "police can use discretion in deciding when to cite people." One of the Councillors pointed out that using a hands free device is no safer than holding the phone to your ear. Apparently her comment was ignored. The British Medical Journal found that it didn't matter which method of communication was used. Drivers using cell phones in any manner were four times more likely to get into a crash that could cause serious injuries to people. A friend suggested that we already have too many people in this country and I should keep my opinions about traffic safety to myself.
Tuesday, February 6, 2007
There are times when just shaking your head isn't enough. The new budget requests are available. Seems that Dubya's budget wants to cut funding for Medicare and Medicaid. There are good and bad ways to try and balance the budget. However, some ugly facts raise their heads from time to time. Fact one: Seniors affected by this are being strapped now trying to pay their medical bills. Fact two: We taxpayers are being asked to spend at least $240 billions of our dollars to give aid to a foreign country that doesn't want us in its borders, won't spend enough of its own income to live the way we want them to (we know best, apparently), appears not to be able to control its own internal problems, is making megabucks peddling oil around the world and seems to make very little effort to strengthen and improve its own military. Fact three: The United States has absolutely no right to try to change the way these people look at God (shades of the Crusades and the Spanish invasions forcing religion on people). Fact four: America already has problems with the exorbitant cost of health care for Americans and forcing the public to pay more and more is not realistic. Fact five: What will happen is that the 30% plus of our citizens (and the illegals) who need the care but cannot afford it, will be using the free medical services every state has in place. Guess who's going to pay for that?