Letters

Letters 05-02-2016

Facts About Trails I would like to correct some misinformation provided in Kristi Kates’ article about the Shore-to-Shore Trail in your April 18 issue. The Shore-to-Shore Trail is not the longest continuous trail in the Lower Peninsula. That honor belongs to the North Country Trail (NCT), which stretches for over 400 miles in the Lower Peninsula. In fact, 100 miles of the NCT is within a 30-minute drive of Traverse City, and is maintained by the Grand Traverse Hiking Club...

North Korea Is Bluffing I eagerly read Jack Segal’s columns and attend his lectures whenever possible. However, I think his April 24th column falls into an all too common trap. He casually refers to a nuclear-armed North Korea when there is no proof whatever that North Korea has any such weapons. Sure, they have set off some underground explosions but so what? Tonga could do that. Every nuclear-armed country on Earth has carried out at least one aboveground test, just to prove they could do it if for no other reason. All we have is North Korea’s word for their supposed capabilities, which is no proof at all...

Double Dipping? In Greg Shy’s recent letter, he indicated that his Social Security benefit was being unfairly reduced simply due to the fact that he worked for the government. Somehow I think something is missing here. As I read it this law is only for those who worked for the government and are getting a pension from us generous taxpayers. Now Greg wants his pension and he also wants a full measure of Social Security benefits even though he did not pay into Social Security...

Critical Thinking Needed Our media gives ample coverage to some presidential candidates calling each other a liar and a sleaze bag. While entertaining to some, this certainly should lower one’s respect for either candidate. This race to the bottom comes as no surprise given their lack of respect for the rigors of critical thinking. The world’s esteemed scientists take great steps to preserve the integrity of their findings. Not only are their findings peer reviewed by fellow experts in their specialty, whenever possible the findings are cross-checked by independent studies...

Home · Articles · News · Random Thoughts · The New Russian...
. . . .

The New Russian Roulette

Robert Downes - June 16th, 2008
The woman yakking on a cell phone sailed through a red light just a stone’s throw away from the Traverse City Police Department. Of course, there’s never a cop around when you wish some jerk would get nailed, so she drove off down the street without a clue.
If there had been a child at the intersection, perhaps the driver would have been a killer in addition to a red light runner. But of course, few parents today are crazy enough to let their kids ride bikes around town like we did when we were young, because increasingly, drivers seem to be ignoring the rules of the road, busy talking on the phone, or even text-messaging while they drive.
This is purely anecdotal evidence, but it seems like hardly a day goes by that I don’t see someone running a red light. Not just at the tail-end of a yellow light, but full-blown red lights as other cars are entering the intersection.
Of course, running red lights is not much of a problem in America, unless you happen to be the person who is killed or seriously maimed.
Michigan began cracking down on red light runners last summer. More than 100 police agencies launched overtime patrols at intersections which have high crash rates.
It’s a growing problem. According to the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning, in 2006, more than 29% of vehicle accidents occurred at intersections, resulting in 25% of the deaths in our state and 33% of crippling injuries.
Some places are in a greater state of anarchy than others. I’ve made a number of trips to Grand Rapids over the past couple of years, and it never fails to amaze me as to how many drivers you see ripping at high speeds through red lights along 28th Street -- the busiest road in Michigan.
In New York City, an estimated one million red lights are run each day; in Phoenix, the figure is estimated at 120,000.
According to a 2003 study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, red light runners cause around 260,000 crashes each year.
About 850 people are killed each year by red light runners and 170,000 are injured, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. One study showed an 18% increase in accidents involving red light runners between 1992 and 1998. It’s a problem on the rise.
An outfit called the Insurance Institute found that a whopping 56% of Americans admit to running red lights. But, 96% of them also fear that they’ll be struck by a car running a light at an intersection. Go figure.
We could do much to stop these deaths by installing video cameras on lights at dangerous intersections in Michigan. These cameras photograph vehicles running red lights and generate stiff traffic fines by reading the driver’s license plate.
Currently, about 250 communities in 23 states have installed video cameras at dangerous intersections, and the problem of red light runners has dramatically decreased in these towns, according to USA Today.
Opponents say that the cameras are just a way for communities to raise more cash. Does anyone really have a problem with that? I wouldn’t mind helping the State or my hometown with its budget problems by sticking the bill to those who play Russian Roulette with our lives by running red lights.
But more could be done. With today’s microchip technology, it would be a simple matter to place sensors in every car on the road that would provide information to sensors in every traffic light. Run a light, get a ticket.
You could catch speeders and tailgaters that way too. If some yahoo is riding your bumper at 60 mph or flying 100 mph down the road, a sensor system in his car could flash a warning to “back off“ and issue a ticket if it‘s ignored.
Of course, this would also mean the government and its private contractors would be able to track your every move. That would raise a howl over invasion of privacy.
And so it goes. America has a vehicle death rate of some 50,000 lives per year, yet we do little to solve the problem. Instead, we spend trillions trying to make insurgents in Iraq behave themselves.
Be careful out there.
 
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