Posts Tagged ‘traffic laws’

“Bad drivers are a good indicator of a corrupt government”

James O’Malley looked at road deaths per 100,000 people for various counties “and compared it to the scores given by the World Justice Project on Rule of Law in 2015.” The correlation came out at -0.68, suggesting that improvements in the rule of law correlate strongly with safer road conditions, possibly mediated through better driver behavior and trust between citizens. Good rule of law conditions also correlate with increased income, but that appears to have a U-shaped effect on aggregate road fatalities: when very poor countries begin to prosper more persons can own cars and the number of accidents increases, but as countries approach affluence more is invested in safety. [CityMetric via Christopher Groskopf, Quartz, including above title]

“N.J. lawmaker wants fines for ‘distracted walking’”

A bad idea, seen previously in proposals in New York and elsewhere, won’t go away: “The measure recently introduced by General Assembly member Pamela Lampitt (D) would ban walking while texting and bar pedestrians on public roads from using electronic communication devices that are not hands-free. Violators would face fines of up to $50, 15 days imprisonment or both, which is the same penalty as jaywalking.” While no states appear to have passed such enactments yet, New Jersey isn’t the only state where they’re being floated: “For instance, a bill pending in Hawaii would fine someone $250 for crossing the street with an electronic device.” [Bruce Shipkowski, AP/Washington Post]

Debra Saunders on California vehicle ticketing

The closer to sheer revenue maximization, the farther from justice: “California is filled with people who are one traffic ticket away from losing their means of independent transportation. They get a ticket for a busted tail light or a small-change moving violation. On paper, the fine is $100, but with surcharges, it’s more like $490. …In 2013, more people — 510,811 — had their licenses suspended for not paying fines than the 150,366 who lost their licenses for drunken driving.” [San Francisco Chronicle]

“The case against mandatory seat-belt laws”

The federal seat-belt-law mandate was the result of a 1980s deal between Reagan-era Transportation secretary Elizabeth Dole (proof, long before Mayor Bloomberg, that nanny-state tendencies transcend partisan labels) and Detroit automakers, who calculated that regulating their customers would help stave off regulating their own design decisions. And now? Less individual liberty, more scope for police discretion, and in some states a taste for revenue: “In California, a single seat-belt violation can be as much as $490.” [Radley Balko] Earlier on mandatory seat belt usage laws here, here (“saturation detail” police stops), here, etc. (“doggie seat belt” laws), here (Germany: Pope in Popemobile), here, and here (England: Santa’s sleigh), among others.

At “least three persons shall be employed to drive” each vehicle

If you worry that local authorities will make overly cautious decisions on how to regulate self-driving cars — or that some of them are currently making overly cautious decisions on regulating ride-sharing — cheer up, because in the past the adoption of initial, highly cumbersome rules has tended to be followed by revisions in a more rational direction later, once the technologies become familiar. Take the progression of English motor vehicle law from its “red flag law” origins in 1865 to its significantly relaxed revision in 1896. Of course, that did take 31 years [Mental Floss]

Drinking coffee behind the wheel = distracted driving?

The Minnesota state police don’t deny that they see coffee-drinking behind the wheel as something that might constitute prohibited distracted driving, but deny Lindsay Krieger’s claim that that was why she was pulled over on Interstate 94 in St. Paul. A spokeswoman says an officer stopped and ticketed Krieger (not her first time) for driving without a seat belt, and the coffee lecture was in the nature of an added warning. Krieger was once “busted in Eagan…for eating Cheerios out of a cup while waiting in line to make a turn.” [Minneapolis Star-Tribune, FindLaw]

Crime and punishment roundup

  • More dangerous today than in past to be a cop in America? Available evidence suggests the opposite [Radley Balko, more]
  • New York Times covers shaken-baby syndrome with look back at Louise Woodward trial [Poynter; Boston Globe on shaken baby syndrome in May; earlier]
  • Study from National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) on gaps in indigent defense misses chance to highlight voucher/choice remedies [Adam Bates, Cato]
  • The far reach of Sarbanes-Oxley: “You Can Be Prosecuted for Clearing Your Browser History” [Juliana DeVries, The Nation]
  • “Has the ‘Responsible Corporate Officer’ doctrine run amok?” [Bainbridge, earlier on Quality Egg/U.S. v. DeCoster case and mens rea]
  • Federal judge, in April: U.S. Attorney Bharara’s publicity tactics against Sheldon Silver strayed close to line [ruling via Ira Stoll]
  • Suspending drivers licenses over unpaid tickets can push poor motorists into downward spiral [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via Balko]