Traffic offenses

We hear constantly about drivers who let themselves be distracted by the radio or cell phones or texting. Overlooked in all this attention to the way drivers let themselves be distracted is the way government distracts drivers. Recently, digital reader-boards have been erected over local highways. Among other things, they are used for public service messages urging people to drive safely.

Public service messages belong on other media, like radio and television, not on public highways. Drivers see flickering letters over head and, expecting something like “Chains required” or “High winds” or whatever, they glance up. How many times have we heard that it takes only a moment for an accident to happen? Unless there’s a message of immediate importance on these boards, they should stay dark.

The same thing goes for the more elaborate digital reader boards that tell drivers how far they are from some local landmark at the moment. Is it really all that useful for a driver going through Sparks to know that he or she is three minutes from the airport? How much did these units cost in order for us to have such distracting little tidbits of minimal information?

Another overlooked problem fostered by officialdom is the hazard of people driving too slowly on freeways. On surface streets, too much speed is dangerous. But on freeways made for speed, a lack of speed can be lethal, which is why every state in the union has a law making it a crime to drive too slowly. In this state, it’s Nevada Revised Statute 484b.623.

A driver doing 35 miles an hour who tries to insert a car into 65 mile-an-hour traffic is a hazard to all drivers. Yet government keeps putting drivers in these risky situations, particularly on the ramps. When transferring between I-80 and I-580 through the spaghetti bowl, for instance, signs tell drivers to slow down when entering the transfer ramps—but never let them resume speed so they can safely blend into traffic at the end of the ramp.

That brings us to the stoplights installed at the end of on-ramps during I-80 expansion a couple of years ago. When the construction period ended, the lights unfortunately remained. Drivers halted by the lights cannot get up to freeway speed fast enough to safely merge. These lights are accidents waiting to happen.

And there are related hazards. Take a look at the photo here. It’s a police car with siren sounding and party hat flashing trying to get past drivers on the Center Street on-ramp, held in place by the idiot stoplights. Drivers heard the siren. They froze in place with nowhere to go. So the police officer is on the left shoulder trying to get past the two rows of immobilized cars. These lights need to be deep-sixed.