OK, Jerry Pobanz called me up this morning about today’s column on bicycle/car safety and in the process of talking we came up with a way to solve Utah’s budget crisis.
Two words: Photo radar.
Here’s the deal. My column today is on how people in cars are trying to kill each other, and the rest of us. Seriously, they are. Don’t think so, you obviously don’t drive, or bicycle, or bike, or even walk. Heck, people sleeping in their bedrooms have been assaulted by cars several times this year alone. Nobody is safe.
Jerry wondered if people, who are polite about bumping into other folks in hallways, suddenly undergo a brainectomy when they turn their key on. My own theory is that people in cars think they’re safe, and as long as they’re safe all is right with the world.
One solution would be to have everyone drive around in cars made of papier mache’, sort of like those Trabants the East Germans used to make. When you drove one of those you were very, very safe because hitting a bird at speed could smash in the front of the car which, no kidding, was made of paper.
But paper cars won’t sell in America, tend to be a fire hazard, and they won’t solve our budget problems. Here’s what we do:
Set up photo radar, which photographs the license plate of every car breaking the speed limit, in a construction zone where the speed limit is 55 m.p.h. Turn it on, and send a traffic ticket with an $80 fine to everyone going by who exceedes the speed limit by more than 5 m.p.h.
Which, as you know, is everyone.
Seriously, there are 40,000 cars per hour using some sections of I-15 at peak hours. If you want to really piss off every single one of them set your cruise control at 55 m.p.h., or whatever the posted limit is, settle down in the right hand lane and watch the middle fingers wag. That’s assuming they’re going slow enough for you to see. Usually they’re not.
In one hour under those conditions, photo radar would generate $3.2 million.
As a business model, I think this is pretty sound. There is the possibility that word could get out and people might actually slow down, but I doubt it.
Utahns will pay, and they won’t slow down. Utahns didn’t slow down when gasoline hit $4 a gallon, making the price of a trip to Salt Lake and back something like $12 a day for the gasoline alone.
They bought a few fewer large gas guzzlers, but not a lot fewer. Utahns consider it their right to drive fast in big vehicles, and they’re not going to let anything stop them, not as long as they can boost their credit card limit.
If we only set up photo radar once a week at any given spot, the cost to people driving there would be about the same as gasoline, and there’s always the chance that the photo radar won’t see their license plate because the car behind them is tailgating. Drivers will get a pass on enough weeks to make it a sporting proposition.
So I think the Highway Patrol should get on this. Photo radar has been criticized for hitting the owner of the vehicle, not the driver, but that strikes me as a small point. Other countries seem to do fine with zinging the licensed owner and letting him/her deal with whoever was actually driving.
If this doesn’t fly, I have other ideas, mostly centered around this apparent booming industry in Morgan growing marijuana. The revenue from taxes on that stuff would be enormous …..