Saving Lives with Three Little Lights

Well, it seems the International Association of Chiefs of Police has called on presidential candidates to support the creation of a national commission that would conduct a comprehensive review of law enforcement and the administration of justice in the United States. Why doesn't the IACP put its weight behind some proposals that can be implemented tomorrow and save lives within a year? But to do that, they would have to lobby against the powerful automobile lobby.

We all know speed kills. We don't need a committee to investigate that. So why is it legal in the United States to build cars that travel at least twice the highest speed limit in the country? When I learned traffic law, the 'limit' meant the fastest you could go under optimum conditions. So if the fastest you can go anywhere in the United States is 70 MPH why build cars that can go 100 MPH? 150 MPH? 200 MPH? Are we building and selling them to test the restraint of the person who can afford to buy them? Why not lobby for a law: the fastest any vehicle can be designed to travel is 70 MPH. That way the temptation (and ability) to travel way above the speed limit would be eliminated.

But how would we know people traveling on local roads wouldn't travel 70 MPH in a 25 MPH zone? Well, we don't. But it seems that it wouldn't be too difficult to mandate all motor vehicles to have two settings; one would be a "Local" setting and the other would be a "Highway" setting. When in the Local mode, the fastest the vehicle could travel would be 35 MPH. When in the Highway mode, the fastest the vehicle could travel would be 70 MPH. How would we know what mode the vehicle operator has set? There would be 3 lights along the rear center of the vehicle, between the tail lights--a green light, a yellow light and a red light. When the vehicle is set in the Highway mode the green light would be lit; when the vehicle is set in the Local mode, the yellow light would be lit. It would be a moving violation with a steep fine and points on your license to have your vehicle set in the Highway mode while traveling on local roads.

Then what's the red light for? The red light is the Seat Belt Indicator Light. Whenever the operator's seatbelt is engaged, the red light would go on. If the red light isn't on, you get stopped and summoned. Just having to look for a red light would greatly enhance an officer's ability to enforce seat belt regulations. I'm sure I read somewhere that seat belts save lives.

So that's it. Three little lights. It's not a grand plan, but it would definitely slow people down. And as more and more drivers operate bigger and bigger vehicles on a more crowded and rarely expanding infrastructure, someone is going to have to do something proactive to reduce the factors that lead to automobile crash related fatalities. Drivers wearing their seatbelts and going slower is a great step toward this goal. And the way to do it is with three little lights.

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