Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Road Tax

As if we needed reminding of the repulsive squalor of government in the State of New York, today brings news that the State Senate approved a law allowing six local towns to lower speed limits from 30 to 25.

You see, it's just getting easier and easier to get around these days, as we're sure you've noticed.   Too easy, in fact.

So easy that, apparently, angry owners of beige Buick Centurys who can't see over the steering wheel (evidently a powerful voting bloc), demanded redress!   Thirty miles per hour is just too darned fast!  A proposition so self-evident to any driver that the State Senate approved the speed reduction unanimously.

In the smoke and mirrors world of New York government, it's always necessary to look through the outward form of things to their actual substance, in order to know what's really going on.

Unreasonably slow speed limits benefit every special and powerful interest involved, at the expense of the public.

First, of course, is the state government, which gets the fines from speeding tickets and then gets to impose a "surcharge" on the unfortunate driver.  When speed limits are unrealistically low, only a few eccentrics obey them.   So the police can stop and ticket nearly anyone, at will.   What you have, then, is not a speed limit, but a randomly-imposable road usage tax.

Insurance companies
love unreasonably low speed limits.   They enable insurers to hike up insurance rates on perfectly safe drivers, once those drivers start accumulating points for "speeding" at an astonishing 30 -- even 35! -- miles per hour.

Police love them because instead of having to go after actual criminals, who might be dangerous, they get to harass ordinary citizens trying to get back and forth from work, or to pick up their kids.   It's a lot easier being a uniformed tax-collector than chasing bad guys.

Everyone wins, except the ordinary citizen, who pays for it all.

Protestations by local governments about "safety concerns," to justify unrealistic speed limits, are a contemptible farce.   Unreasonably low speed limits actually cause more accidents, as drivers take more risks to get around the Buick Century drivers, and get pushed further in the direction of road rage.

Lowering limits to 25 will exact the social costs of increasing contempt for the law among ordinary citizens and breeding disrespect for police. It will educate children across Monroe County, even more thoroughly than before, that it's OK to be a scofflaw.   Mom and Dad don't pay attention to those speed laws, do they?   Why should I obey laws?

There's nothing we can do about it, of course.   After all, this is New York, where citizens are chattel of the state.   But if the law makes scofflaws of us all, we can at least make scofflaws of the law.   When you find yourself in one of the new 25-mile per hour zones and there's a cop behind you, keep it right to 25.  Watch how long it takes before he passes you.

If local governments really wanted to slow traffic instead of shake down ordinary citizens for more money, they'd try innovative approaches, like the one in Denmark that you can learn about in the video below.


1 comment:

Mr. Magoo said...

You forgot to mention another powerful interest that benefits from ridiculously low speed limits: the State.

The State now charges a $300 fine of its own on any driver who starts accumulating points over a certain amount.

No wonder the State Legislature voted for this nonsense unanimously!