Letters 11-23-2015

Cheering From Petoskey While red-eyed rats boil fanatically up from the ancient sewers of Paris to feast on pools of French blood, at the G20 meeting the farcical pied piper of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue thrusts a bony finger at the president of the Russian Federation and yells: “liberté, égalité, fraternité, Clinton, Kerry--Obamaism!”

The Other Mothers And Fathers Regarding the very nice recent article on “The First Lady of Yoga,” I have taken many classes with Sandy Carden, and I consider her to be a great teacher. However, I feel the article is remiss to not even give acknowledgement to other very important yoga influences in northern Michigan...

Drop The Blue Angels The last time I went to the National Cherry Festival, I picked the wrong day. The Blue Angels were forcing everyone to duck and cover from the earsplitting cacophony overhead...

Real Advice For The Sick In the Nov. 16 article “Flu Fighters,” author Kristi Kates fails to mention the most basic tool in our arsenal during Influenza season... the flu vaccine! I understand you might be afraid of being the victim of Jenny McCarthyism, but the science is there...

Keeping Traverse City in the Dark Our environment is our greatest asset. It sustains our lives; it drives our economy. We ignore it at our peril. Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) has submitted letters of concern to both the city commission and planning commission regarding the proposed 9-story buildings on Pine Street. We have requested an independent environmental assessment with clear answers before a land use permit is granted...

All About Them Another cartoon by Jen Sorensen that brings out the truth! Most of her cartoons are too slanted in a Socialist manner, but when she gets it correct, she hits the nail on the target! “Arizona is the first state to put a 12-month lifetime limit on welfare benefits.” That quote is in the opening panel... 

Unfair To County Employees It appears that the commissioners of Grand Traverse County will seek to remedy a shortfall in the 2016 budget by instituting cuts in expenditures, the most notable the reduction of contributions to various insurance benefits in place for county employees. As one example, the county’s contributions to health insurance premiums will decrease from ten to six percent in 2016. What this means, of course, is that if a county employee wishes to maintain coverage at the current level next year, the employee will have to come up with the difference...

Up, Not Out I would like to congratulate the Traverse City Planning Commission on their decision to approve the River West development. Traverse City will either grow up or grow out. For countless reasons, up is better than out. Or do we enjoy such things as traffic congestion and replacing wooded hillsides with hideous spectacles like the one behind Tom’s West Bay. At least that one is on the edge of town as opposed to in the formerly beautiful rolling meadows of Acme Township...

Lessons In Winning War I am saddened to hear the response of so many of legislators tasked with keeping our country safe. I listen and wonder if they know what “winning” this kind of conflict requires or even means? Did we win in Korea? Did we win in Vietnam? Are we winning in Afghanistan? How is Israel winning against the Palestinians? Will they “take out” Hezbollah...

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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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