Friday, July 2, 2010

Sammy Hagar Funding Initiative

(from the June/July 2010 Editor's Note of AsphaltPro Magazine)
I ask you to bear with me for just a moment while I plagiarize Sammy Hagar.

Go on & write me up for 125
Post my face, wanted dead or alive
Take my license & all that jive
I can’t drive 55!

(Many thanks go out to Steve Jackson of NB West Contracting, Missouri, for sending this shot of himself with Sammy at a show July 1, 2010! Rock on!)

There’s a reason I’m channeling ’80s hair band rock today. I’ve got an idea. You see, I read an article online about a month or so ago claiming county police officers were stepping up their diligence in detaining and ticketing speeding motorists in an effort to make up languishing budgets in our current economic distress. Of course the obligatory quote from a sheriff suggested that officers are always diligent in keeping motorways safe, thus there’s no increase in ticketing these days. (Statistics showed otherwise, but that’s not the point of this editorial piece.) The point of this editorial piece is to suggest we make good use of increased diligence in all state highway patrols.

I would like to suggest all speeding fines be increased dramatically.

I would further like to suggest that a significant percentage of all speeding fines assessed by state highway patrol officers be allocated specifically to highway funding.

I would further like to suggest that the imagined “10-mph grace” allowed for motorists to travel in excess of posted limits be decreased. This will not only enhance motorists’ safety on our nation’s roadways, it will add funding to much-needed highway building and maintenance coffers in every state.

Now, I have to admit that it pains me to write this editorial. I’m guilty of driving too fast most of the time. The only time I truly slow down is when passing a work zone because I’m aware of the danger to workers there. You can imagine the irritation I cause for following drivers when I approach a work zone and start slowing in accordance to the law.

I-75 runs up and down the state of Florida with a posted speed limit of 70 mph. Drivers run up and down I-75 at a clip of 80 mph on a good day. We hit 90 when we can get away with it. Surely members of the state highway patrol are as aware of this as the rest of the driving public. Why aren’t they out there slowing us to something safer? Why aren’t the citizens of Florida sharing the profits in the form of safer roads? Yes, a percentage goes into the funding coffers now. Apparently, it’s not enough.

The FAA funding bill faces its headaches that spell another delay this July 3. The Lieberman-Kerry bill dooms potential user fee increases later this year (see the post below for more on that). Current measures fall short of necessary funding for infrastructure maintenance. What’s the nation to do to keep commerce lively and safety in check?

It’s time to hike up the consequences for speeding and hike up the benefits for the highway system. The next time a Lamborghini races a Corvette—and, yes, that happens down here in Collier County—toward Miami, a string of Florida’s finest should be waiting in ambush to hand them citations that will make my Charger’s smug—and easy—drop to 70 mph feel smoother. (Or maybe I just have to live with Dodge’s funky transmission problem that the dealer refused to fix while the car was under the original warranty…)

As Mr. Hagar says, it’s difficult to drive those slower speeds, and therein lies the genius of this funding plan. Speeders can’t keep their feet off the accelerators. One of those crazy TV channels even has a show about it. We’ll be getting funding from here until the end of time, no matter what kind of car the motorist drives or what kind of fuel he/she puts in it. Now who wants to take the idea to his senator? You know Ray LaHood will sign off on it if you add in a no-cell-phone-use-while-driving clause.

Stay Safe,
Sandy Lender, Editor
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