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Improving our Drivers, Roads, Speed Limits and Enforcement

vchengvcheng Posts: 1,286
I believe that there are several issues involved in improving our highway network. I would like to discuss ways to improve:

1. Driver training and standards

2. Road engineering and funding

3. Speed limits and proper applicability

4. Enforcement of all laws to improve safety and compliance


all together in this forum.

Please note that there might be some overlap with some already existing boards but I think that one forum to deal with these inter-related issues in a POSITIVE manner to IMPROVE the aspects under discussion might be appropriate.

Please also note that merely describing what is presently wrong is NOT enough. There must be a definite effort with implementable suggestions to IMPROVE whatever aspect you might think need improving, and the proposed solutions must be relevant to the USA.

I look forward to a positive and productive dicussion with my fellow forum members. If this board dies because of a lack of participation, then that will teach me something important as well. :)
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Comments

  • jipsterjipster Posts: 5,345
    People seem to have short term memories when it comes to following the rules we already have in place. So, I would re-test everyone when they go in to renew their driver lisence. It would be an easy 10-15 minute test, (They could take it while waiting on their mug shot to be developed), that would focus on education and reinforcing using signals, coming to complete stop, not passing on double stripped lines, not driving while drunk or distracted i.e on a cell phone, etc etc. I estimate my proposal to save at least 200 lives a year, with a reduction of bodily injury cases in the thousands.
  • vchengvcheng Posts: 1,286
    That is a good idea about retesting every licence renewal. However, not all DVLA/DMV offices have an area where people could take their road re-test, so it would mean an extra step at a place somewhere else, adding to the hassle and costs. Also, the "mug shots" are now mostly taken digitally, so there is practically no delay.

    If the same people who administer the routine initial tests also administer these additional re-tests, how would that improve everyday driving standards? This would increase their workload manifold and increase wait times for new drivers to take their test.

    Would these trade-offs be acceptable?

    If the re-test is to be written only, how would this compare to the 4 hour "driver safety" course that is already available that gives a 20% insurance discount? Maybe this course should be made compulsory with the insurance companies' support?
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    Driving training is a JOKE in this country.

    Here's what I would do to improve it:

    Create TWO DIFFERENT driving courses for new drivers.

    Course 1 would be basic road rules, driver training, basically what we have now - but I would double or triple the written content, and increase the length of the road test - actually splitting it into 5 days of testing per student - and no one would pass without doing ALL of it well.

    Course #2 would be completely focusing on SAFETY and DRIVER COURTESY.

    Train young drivers about how to be courteous on the road. Show them graphic, disturbing videos of car crashes and dead people in cars. Take them to the hospital and let them see REAL dead bodies from car crashes, to impress upon them how their actions affect other people and themselves.

    Make sure that stressing BLINKER USAGE, STOPPING COMPLETELY AT STOP SIGNS ( no "California stops" tolerated ), stress to them that when they see a yellow light ahead to START SLOWING DOWN AND PREPARE TO STOP instead of speeding up to make the light.

    I would spend a whole half-day on the importance of not running red lights, not tailgating, and how to avoid becoming a road-rager.

    I would teach them that even in a parking lot, people want to know which way you are turning, so ALWAYS use your blinkers as a courtesy to other drivers.

    I would stress to them and teach them that driving is not something to put yourself on "auto pilot" but to be focusing constantly on the job of driving and paying attention to the cars and situations around you.

    I would teach them anger-management skills to help them avoid being a victim of or a perpetrator of road rage, which kills a lot of people.

    I would make sure that they understood WHY we have speed limits and that the speed limits are the UPPER LIMIT, not a RECOMMENDATION.

    I would show them the studies which prove that speeding to a location not only increases your chances of an accident or getting a ticket, but also only minimally IF AT ALL allows you to arrive there any faster.

    I would make them understand that a vehicle is not a toy, not an item to play games with, and certainly not for racing.

    I will add more stuff later as it comes to me. This is only the start of how I would change the system.
  • vchengvcheng Posts: 1,286
    These are good ideas no doubt.

    I have a question though: WHO teaches a new driver all this? Presently, after a learner's permit, any family member over 21 or any other licenced driver over 21 may do the teaching, and that may not be upto the standards required, and also form the basis of bad habits handed down from generation to generation.

    Much of what you say, which I mostly agree with, should already be covered, but is not under the present way of teaching new drivers. So the question of how all these goals you mention can be achieved depends greatly on who does the teaching.
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    It would be the same people who teach driver's education now. It would just be mandated by the guvmint that they modify the classes in this manner.
  • xrunner2xrunner2 Posts: 3,062
    I like the idea of some kind of re-testing at certain intervals after you first get your driver's license. I got mine at 16 years and 1 day old and have not been tested since. Its been a number of years. Don't know if there is variation state-by-state in the U.S. if some states have regular retesting and others have none.

    Of course, restesting is an expense for government and somehow has to be paid. The cost should be paid per a fee charged to the llicensee.

    State DOT offices probably do not have the capacity or personnel available to do retesting on regular intervals. DOTs could collaborate if they like to design standardized training/testing packages. Hgih school or community college teachers could be certified to run these courses and do the testing. These courses would be classroom based to start with.

    We need some kind of person or organization such as, but not limited to, Obama Cabinet Transp Secty, MADD, IIHS, etc., to champion the cause of better driver training - classroom and road in the U.S.

    It is disgusting that we as a nation apparently accept approximately 800 deaths per week in traffic crashes. Add in the thousands of injuries, some putting people in wheelchairs. We would not tolerate terrorists or a war-mongering country attacking and killing/injuring our citizens to the numbers we accept. Apparently, traffic deaths/injuries do not rise to the level of national attention.
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    xrunner2 says ,"It is disgusting that we as a nation apparently accept approximately 800 deaths per week in traffic crashes. Add in the thousands of injuries, some putting people in wheelchairs. We would not tolerate terrorists or a war-mongering country attacking and killing/injuring our citizens to the numbers we accept. Apparently, traffic deaths/injuries do not rise to the level of national attention. "

    Those are very good points. It is tragic that we allow it and accept it as OK.
  • vchengvcheng Posts: 1,286
    I agree with this absolutely, that we as a nation have become somewhat de-sensitized to the number of traffic deaths and injuries.

    At the same time, merely making laws piled upon existing laws without proper enforcement mechanisms, or all sorts of people and organizations making noble statements without any intelligently though-out actions, is obviously not going to be enough to improve the situation.

    Safety, especially safety at speed, requires a lot of resources and has a lot of costs, both start-up as well as on-going. Any suggestions we make here need to have some thoughts related to how one can fund any related costs, direct as well as indirect.

    However, WE in this forum can attempt to start changing this. :)
  • xrunner2xrunner2 Posts: 3,062
    Wording is excellent, starting with "Improving", and is inviting and open-ended to allow readers/posters to freely express relevant ideas.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,669
    something has to be done about the fact that highway patrol and local police officers have quotas for speeding tickets because they are required to generate revenue for their departments. We have to get these departments dedicated revenue streams on a national or at least statewide basis so that they are free to enforce all the driving laws rather than merely setting up the speed traps and red light traps they do currently,

    Perhaps this too should come from the gas tax, since it is directly related to driving and policing of the roads? I know they get part of their funds from there now, but it is a small part.

    I will echo the call for MUCH better, institutionalized driver training courses run by either DMV or DOT, that MUST be passed before one can test for a license. Bearing in mind that a license is a privilege, it would be OK to charge prospective drivers a fee to cover the costs of these courses.

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • vchengvcheng Posts: 1,286
    Why thank you! :blush:
  • vchengvcheng Posts: 1,286
    Good points.

    We all need a well funded and well trained police force. One sure way to expose these valuable individuals to corruption is not to fund them properly at local, state and federal levels.

    However, given resource constraints, the funding can never be open-ended. Further, how do we ensure adequate funding for a small police force in a small mid-western town vs a big police force in a rich suburb on the coasts and every size and situation in between? And how does one keep out local politicians out of this process that will surely want in on this potential gravy train?
  • wesleygwesleyg Posts: 164
    Please let me throw in my two cents after 31 years of traffic enforcement. I would dearly love to say there are NO quotas anywhere, but then I lie. But, heres the good thing, at least I feel it is. Lets say department X has an unofficial, unwritten (they always are) quota of 15 traffic citations a week per officer.

    Now to take the cheap, easy way out that could be done with speed traps and other cheezy operations, but it doesn't have to be. All you gotta do is enforce dangerous, foolhardy, negligent violations, you can easily meet your quota and you are doing a valuable service to the motoring safety of the public.

    No officer ever has to feel he's cheap shotting the public by writing speed trap tickets at 8 MPH over on a dry street with no traffic. Simply do the above and enforce the real dangerous violations, I assure you they are out there in plentitude. Do the job, the real job. And the beauty of this is that no police department administration will find fault with this, the revenue stream is the same, so great, they're happy.
    The only possible damper in this is it is slightly harder work, but hell I feel good knowing I removed a selfish, reckless nut from the road for at least a short while.
  • vchengvcheng Posts: 1,286
    Excerpt from the new budget, from:
    http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/02/26/fy10.budget.pdf

    Page 91 and 92 of 146 (one table not copied):

    DEPARTMENT Of TRANSPORTATiON

    Funding Highlights:

    • Commits to better target surface transportation spending and explores options to make the Nation’s communities more livable and less congested, such as through road pricing.

    • Increases funding for public transit to support commuters, improve air quality, and reduce greenhouse gases.
    • Supports development of high speed rail networks across the country to link regional population centers.
    • Supports the Next Generation Air Transportation System to modernize the air traffic control system.

    Commits to developing Sustainable Solutions for Surface Transportation Programs and to improving Program Performance.

    Surface transportation programs are at a crossroads.
    The current framework for financing and
    allocating surface transportation investments is
    not financially sustainable; nor does it effectively
    allocate resources to meet our critical national
    needs. The Administration intends to work with
    the Congress to reform surface transportation
    programs both to put the system on a sustainable
    financing path and to make investments in
    a more sustainable future, enhancing transit options
    and making our economy more productive
    and our communities more livable. Further, the
    Nation’s surface transportation system must generate
    the best investments to reduce congestion
    and improve safety. To do so, the Administration
    will emphasize the use of economic analysis and
    performance measurement in transportation
    planning. This will ensure that taxpayer dollars
    are better targeted and spent.


    Initiates a New federal Commitment to high Speed Rail.

    To provide Americans a 21st
    Century transportation system, the Administration
    proposes a five-year $5 billion high-speed
    rail State grant program. Building on the $8 billion
    down payment in the American recovery
    and reinvestment Act of 2009, the President’s
    proposal marks a new Federal commitment to
    give the traveling public a practical and environmentally
    sustainable alternative to flying or
    driving. Directed by the States, this investment
    will lead to the creation of several high-speed
    rail corridors across the country linking regional
    population centers.

    Modernizes the Air Traffic Control System.

    The Budget provides approximately $800
    million for the Next Generation Air Transportation
    System, a long-term effort to improve the
    efficiency, safety, and capacity of the air traffic
    control system. The 2010 Budget supports moving
    from a ground-based radar surveillance
    system to a more accurate satellite-based surveillance
    system; development of more efficient
    routes through the airspace; and improvements
    in aviation weather information.

    Improves Rural Access to the Aviation System.

    The Administration is committed to
    maintaining small communities’ access to the
    National Airspace System. The Budget provides
    a $55 million increase over the 2009 level to
    the Department of Transportation (DOT) to fulfill
    current program requirements as demand
    for subsidized commercial air service increases.
    However, the program that delivers this subsidy
    is not efficiently designed. Through the budget
    process, the Administration intends to work with
    the Congress to develop a more sustainable program
    model that will fulfill its commitment while
    enhancing convenience for travelers and improving
    cost effectiveness.

    Makes Budgetary Treatment of Transportation Programs More Transparent.

    Budget authority for highway, transit, highway safety,
    and airport improvement programs usually has
    been defined as mandatory contract authority
    provided in authorizing legislation. However, the
    levels of contract authority have been, for the
    most part, controlled by obligation limitations in
    appropriations acts. Outlays from the obligation
    limitations have always been scored as discretionary.
    To more transparently display program
    resources, the Administration proposes changing
    the budgetary treatment of transportation programs
    to show both budget authority and outlays
    as discretionary. For 2009, the discretionary budget
    authority top line would be increased by approximately
    $53 billion, increasing DOT budget
    authority total from $17 billion under the typical
    presentation to $70 billion. Similar budget
    authority adjustments would be made for each
    outyear. The change would not affect outlays or
    the deficit or surplus—just more transparently
    convey to the taxpayer the real costs of supporting
    the transportation infrastructure our Nation
    needs.
  • andres3andres3 CAPosts: 5,282
    I believe Accident causers are also the number one traffic and pollution causers as they disturb traffic flow which increases pollution.

    Therefore, as the self elected dictator of the USA, I'd immediately implement the following:

    Upon decision of a driver being at-fault in a vehicular accident with at least 1 other vehicle involved in damages, I'd do the followign:

    1. Fine them $1,000 for poor driving.
    2. Fine them an additional $5,000 if the accident impeded traffic flow causing the back up of traffic.
    3. Allow Officers to ticket (at-fault) drivers for violations at-will).
    4. Force the at fault driver to take a mandatory retest of a comprehensive road driving exam and also written test.
    5. Pay fees for the re-test.
    6. Pay excess insurance cost fees above and beyond raised insurance premiums.

    And for good drivers, that don't and haven't caused accidents:

    1. Ban officers from issuing citations other than reckless or negligent driving to them.
    2. Waive tickets that are not true safety issues, which pretty much needs to be a reckless or negligent driving act (running a red light at 40 MPH, not 1 MPH on a right turn, for example).
    3. Enforce left lane courtesy strictly. Meaning any slow pokes meandering along in the left lane impeding traffic will be ticketed.
    4. Teach all that the left most lane is for the fastest of traffic, and as you go right, you go slower. Slower traffic must yield to the right. I'd enforce this strictly because if this was obeyed there would be an elmination of 99.9% of road rage.

    Also, accidents due to varying velocities of vehicles in the same lane would be reduced significantly.
  • xrunner2xrunner2 Posts: 3,062
    Did you also want to cover one-vehicle crashes (not accidents) where a speeder or reckless driver goes off the road and rolls over, crashes into utility pole or culvert, etc. and causes damage to roadway fixtures or private property as well as own vehhicle. Speeder or reckless driver might also kill or injure himself and/or his passengers.
  • vchengvcheng Posts: 1,286
    All noble ideas for sure, but given the lack of apparatus that you would have at your disposal at the self-styled dictator of the USA, not very likely to be implemented. :)

    But seriously: Assuming that you were the Transportation Secretary, how would propose implementation of these ideas, working within the bounds of our Constitution, given that the implementation mechanisms will involve local politicians and police forces, not to mention the training and habits of all US citizens of varying abilities and outlooks on driving?

    (Phew, that's a looong question. Did I just write that? :) )

    Also, what about the Insurance industry and their responses to your ideas? What be the the hikes in insurance premiums, and how would deal with a larger and larger number of uninsurable drivers?

    How about if the driver simply did not have the resources to pay the proposed fines? Please keep in mind that amongst the industrialized nations, we ALREADY jail a larger percentage of our population than any other on Earth. :)
  • vchengvcheng Posts: 1,286
    I would imagine so, since ALL types of reckless and even potentially dangerous driving behaviours should be fair game under the proposed plan of andres3.
  • andres3andres3 CAPosts: 5,282
    Also, what about the Insurance industry and their responses to your ideas? What be the the hikes in insurance premiums, and how would deal with a larger and larger number of uninsurable drivers?

    How about if the driver simply did not have the resources to pay the proposed fines? Please keep in mind that amongst the industrialized nations, we ALREADY jail a larger percentage of our population than any other on Earth.


    For today, I"ll answer the two issues above. Uninsured drivers would not be allowed to drive, have a license, and the penalties would be severe (more jail crowding if they choose to drive anyway).

    Driver without resources to pay would have their vehicle confiscated, sold, and the proceeds would pay off the fine with the remainder going back to the owner. No vehicle = no way to drive (sounds good to me since they are bad drivers anyway).

    They'd have to ride the bus, take a cab, walk, bike, jog, or run to wherever they needed to go. Carpooling would be an option but they'd have to be a passenger.

    I bet if jailtime for bad driving were a possible threat, it would work as a great deterant to the bad driving in the first place; which would reduce the need to build more prisons.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 32,907
    Another good idea for that plan would be mandatory extra education for problematic young drivers, and keep them off the road until this is completed. Stop them before they become problematic adults.

    Like the girl who ran a stop sign and broadsided my friend's babied 85 Monte SS which then had about 60K miles on it. He was getting the runaround to get the claim going, so he called her insurance company - they started giving him info, and it was about an at-fault crash she had 3 weeks before hitting him. She shouldn't have been back on the road.
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