Law enforcement, not 'self-enforcement,' is needed to curtail traffic accidents
In recent years, there has been an alarming rise in traffic accidents, including pedestrian deaths, across the nation. Agencies with jurisdiction, from federal to local, and organizations devoted to highway safety, aren’t letting this crisis go to waste. While pedestrians are dying, they are DIE-ing to impose equitable outcomes, even prioritizing “self-enforcing roads” over law enforcement.
The Governors Highway Safety Association is determined to institutionalize equity in roadway safety, even establishing a standing Equity and Engagement Committee to oversee (something safety socialists love to do) integrating equitable outcome components in their planning and grant applications. Given their DIE-hard perseverance, perhaps it is they who need institutionalizing—and not by burrowing into a nonprofit safety organization with a cushy salary.
The Department of Transportation—badly led by an ideologue who couldn’t even fix potholes as a minor mayor—sees everything through the prism of equity. It issued the National Roadway Safety Strategy (NRSS), which downplays law enforcement in favor of a “Safe System approach,” including these five elements of a safe transportation system: safe road users, safe vehicles, safe speeds, safe roads, and post-crash care.
Image: Car accident by fxquadro.
That may seem prima facie reasonable. However, the agency over-emphasizes equity of outcomes when determining grant awards to facilitate this approach. Grant funding decisions are largely based on a commitment to equitable outcomes.
Under the “Key Departmental Actions to Enable Safer People” section of the NRSS are these points:
- Support the development and accessibility of training designed to enhance equity in law enforcement.
- Encourage States to apply for the Section 1906 grant program that funds the collection of information on the race and ethnicity of the driver in motor vehicle stops.
The DIE-hard NRSS is also infused with some insipid “intersectionality” language as it looks to incorporate equity into all—all—its roadway safety efforts:
The Department will advance equity as an instrumental component of transportation safety and convene key stakeholders – government at all levels, law enforcement, advocacy, community organizations, and the general public – to develop both a better understanding of the intersection of equity and roadway safety, and a comprehensive approach to incorporating equity into all of the Department’s efforts to achieve zero roadway fatalities and serious injuries. (Emphasis added.)
Due to their misplaced obsession with equitable outcomes, the DOT’s NRSS recommends studies to promote what seems like a foregone conclusion—the greater use of speed cameras. The overseeing socialists believe these will provide more equitable enforcement than police traffic stops. Not so fast (as it were)! Cameras may reduce speeding somewhat, but they are not a great deterrent to forms of reckless driving, like texting while driving or fleeing a crime scene.
Nor do cameras do much to thwart carjacking, and they’re utterly useless if the vehicle has an obscured (or no) license plate. If the burrowed bureaucrats truly want equity of outcomes, they shouldn’t be weasels. Instead, they must admit an inconvenient truth: most carjacking is committed by minorities.
Despicably, the DOT’s egregious equity edicts exacerbate mistrust. Perhaps this is not surprising considering its feckless “leader” was installed largely on the basis of his identity. Consider this hogwash from the NRSS document:
Although men consistently represent more than 70 percent of drivers involved in fatal crashes, when comparable crashes are analyzed and risk taking differences are accounted for, studies have shown that motor vehicle fatality risk is, on average, 17 percent higher for a female than for a male of the same age. [Footnote omitted.]
I wonder what “studies” or contradictory evidence they conveniently overlooked. Does anyone who is not brainwashed with guilt-ridden DEI propaganda really believe those selective statistics?
Regardless, the statement, by offering the disclaimer “when comparable crashes are analyzed and risk taking differences are accounted for,” hints at research malpractice, if not prejudice. What a convoluted way to frame the issue to substantiate a perverted, progressive worldview.
It’s almost as if 70 percent is not high enough, and their DIE orthodoxy prefers that even more men die…especially if they’re white. Maybe a jolt of electro-convulsive therapy will spark their minds from woke to awake; just a quick zap, judiciously applied, to gently shock them out of their liberal mental disease.
Instead of their dystopian vision of “equity of outcomes,” how about equal opportunity for police officers to pull over drivers for reckless driving? Across the nation, defunding the police and limiting traffic enforcement are contributing to lawless roads and an upsurge in accidents. But let’s highlight Seattle, Washington, as its road safety campaign contains language about “safe systems” and “self-enforcing” roads almost verbatim out of the NRSS playbook.
The so-called Emerald City, now a cesspool of dysfunctional liberalism, instituted a traffic safety campaign called “Vision Zero.” Yet, seven years into it, Zero is nowhere to be seen. Instead, city officials are expressing deep concerns about the continued rise in traffic accidents.
The city’s transportation department did a review of the program’s failure, producing a 37-page report. The report includes this little tidbit that sounds familiar by now: “Peer agencies are moving away from enforcement as a leading strategy, pointing instead to a safe systems model and designing roads to be ‘self-enforcing.’”
“Self-enforcing”? One can almost hear the traffic violators laughing their heads off. Ironically, “Vision Zero” is right, but for the wrong reason—it has zero accountability. As Seattle City Councilmember Tammy Morales spewed, “I don’t think any of us want police involved in traffic stops.” Her credibility is what’s zero.
Indeed, as Charles Mudede, a local writer, put it in his article about the “permitted lawlessness of cars” (the article has a slightly profane title I’ll not repeat),
Drivers [in Seattle] are daily hitting people on their feet, on a bike, on a scooter. But this lawlessness is simply permitted. You can’t sleep on the street without making the news, but you can constantly break the vehicle laws with near impunity.
So much for self-enforcement!
In Seattle’s suburbs, increasing numbers of traffic violators simply refuse to yield to the police. The Puyallup Police Department logged 148 instances of drivers fleeing from officers from July 26, 2021, to May 18, 2022. In Lakewood, about 40 miles south of Seattle, Police Chief Mike Zaro said drivers fail to stop for his officers about once a day. Washington State Patrol also reports a stark rise in drivers refusing to stop. These drivers aren’t constrained by self-enforcing roads; they simply aren’t worried about getting caught.
New streetlights, sidewalks, cameras, or whatever, especially in urban areas, are fine but the policies behind them are as perversely political as they are about safety. Meanwhile, traffic accidents and pedestrian deaths continue to surge in Seattle and all over the nation. Instead of leveraging this crisis to push equity for road villains, it’s time reckless drivers worry about getting caught.
A simple truism is that identifying a problem is half the solution. For comprehensive traffic safety, that solution is not an overreliance on roadways with special and mysterious “self-enforcement“ features, but active, and well-funded, law enforcement. Just don’t run or backchat, and all will be well. Show respect (it feels good), and the vast majority of police will reciprocate. After all, they don’t want to be the next YouTube sensation for the wrong reasons.