Do you have happy memories of Halloween nights when you were a kid? Counting and sorting your loot? Secretly getting away with eating too much until you got sick?
If yes, then congratulations. You lived through the experience.
I know of at least four young people from Halloween 2014 that will never get the same chance.
Today, I’m back for more of the same, but this time without the aggression. This time I have the solution.
Google and the like may be feverishly pouring millions (billions?) into pie-in-the-sky dreams about cars that can drive themselves. Ostensibly this will solve the hit-and-run problem once and for all. I hope they spare a few subroutines for things like hit-and-run morality. (With embedded advertising, of course.) Perhaps a Fourth Law of Robotics? “This robot will not allow asshole human beings to override operation after an accident in an attempt to break the law. Check out the hot deals on polar fleece at Old Navy.”
One can dream.
Meanwhile, we need a solution in the here and now. We can’t afford to wait.
What I propose is simple: A federal law that mandates installation of an Accident Reporting Device (ARD) in all vehicles. This device will, when an accident is detected, immediately communicate, via satellite, the following information to a national law enforcement database:
- Unique vehicle ID
- GPS coordinates
- Collected accident data (location on vehicle, type of impact, force of impact, etc.)
The law will be written in such a way that operating a motor vehicle with an ARD that has been tampered with or disabled in any way will be a serious crime. This will be treated in similar fashion to refusal to submit to a sobriety test.
When vehicles are stopped by law enforcement they shall have the authority to conduct an inspection of the ARD to ensure compliance. This is similar to the authority to ask for proof of insurance.
Costs of the ARD program will be passed on to consumers.
Vehicles will be required to pass ARD compliance testing every 24 months before vehicle registration is issued.
Any ARD compliance violation will result in suspension of driving privileges for one year (or more for each subsequent violation).
The purpose of the program is to give law enforcement a simple yet powerful tool to fight crimes like hit-and-run. In the event of an accident involving hit-and-run, the database can be checked to easily determine which vehicles were involved. The database may have other uses, like identifying vehicles involved in large incidents, etc.
Some might raise objections to a program like this on privacy grounds or that it creates more bureaucracy. Both are legitimate concerns.
Regarding privacy, the program is mostly non-invasive in that it only “pings” during an event and the law should be written with privacy in mind. (For example, the database can only be queried, by law enforcement, when certain criteria is met.) Further, since the ARD only reports during an accident, privacy concerns are minimal. The ARDs shall be designed and constructed in such a way “on-demand” or continuous tracking is impossible.
As with all bureaucracy, the question becomes one of cost (both money and rights) vs. public benefit. I would argue that a program like this is minimal in cost while providing almost incalculable benefit. The cost of doing nothing is to continue to allow those responsible for death, serious injury and property damage to have an opportunity to escape unchecked. Approximately ten percent of all vehicle accidents in the United States currently involve hit-and-run. Some of them are never solved.
It’s just that simple. Problem solved. You’re welcome.
Drive drunk? I feel that should be classified as “attempted murder.” Society, as usual, doesn’t agree with me. “No jail time for killing four pedestrians while driving with a BAC three times over the legal limit and not even old enough to drink.” That wee bit of difference of opinion on punishment makes me an outlier, I guess. Of course, that’s an extreme example, yet to my way of thinking, punishment in even garden variety DUII cases falls woefully short.
Cheat on your spouse? That should also be “attempted murder.” It’s all so simple to me. Pick up a deadly disease, bring it to your marital bed, and pay it forward with a potential disease that could theoretically kill the person who trusts you the most. There should be serious punishment for that. Far too often the only real punishment is going back to your regular life like nothing ever happened. Not much of a deterrent, eh?
In brief, my point is that without certain and meaningful consequence there is absolutely no limit on behavior. Period.
I believe a certain percentage of people just don’t give a shit. Perhaps they are motivated by drug addiction. Perhaps they are psychopaths and/or sociopaths and it’s what they do. Maybe they were brought into the world and damaged beyond repair by parents, environment and random events. Whatever the reason, it makes little difference in the end. The outcomes are similar. The themes of destruction and causing harm are remarkably consistent.
We tend to expect it from these folks. No big surprises there.
What about the rest of us? We’re good, right?
Hold on. Let’s not be too hasty.
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“I’m sorry for what I did,” they sobbed. “Fleeing the scene of the accident is the biggest mistake of my life.”
I do not doubt the sincerity. The young person was just sentenced to more than three years in prison. Also a mother, the woman was losing her son. I do, however, doubt the judgment. I doubt the assessment that the decision to run was the mistake. Sadly it was only the tip of a titanic-sized iceberg and wasn’t the first or last lapse of judgement on her part.
Where did things go awry? It was hours before the accident when a totally sober person made the decision to embark on an evening of drink with no thought process to address simple questions like, “How will I get myself home?”
The person who made that decision, although fully conscious, uncompromised and presumably rational, didn’t stop to consider the possibility of fateful events. Such planning didn’t rise to the level of being important. There was fun to be had.
Of course, we all know decision-making skills hit the toilet as soon as strong drink hits the gullet. That’s the way it works. No big surprise there. That’s why it’s prudent to make such important decisions and plans well before the alcohol begins to flow.
The record shows the young person didn’t exercise much care when it came to driving. Her driver’s license had been suspended at least four times since 2009. She had at least 12 convictions on traffic offenses (none DUII related) since 2007. Offenses included speeding, not wearing a seat belt, driving with a suspended license, and use of a cell phone while driving.
Without a plan and legally intoxicated, the decision was made. The young person would operate a motor vehicle while drunk. It would be a fateful night.
Meanwhile, not too far away, a bicyclist had a flat tire. In the dark and on the side of the road, he was then hit from behind by the drunk driver. He was sent to the hospital ICU unit. He suffered several broken bones, including both legs, a ruptured spleen and other minor injuries.
The driver did not stop. She did not render assistance to her victim. Her alcohol-addled brain deduced (rightfully so) that she’d get in trouble. It was her choice to flee. Apparently what she was unable to deduce was that her very best option at that moment was to do the right thing. And that was something her hobbled mind was unable to fathom.
It didn’t end there, though.
Later, once she was sober and presumably had her normal decision-making abilities restored, her next move was to take her car to a body shop in a calculated attempt to conceal what she had done. Luckily someone tipped off police and, finally, once she was left with no other recourse, she made a decision to take responsibility and turn herself in. It was a long time coming and had little meaning by then.
Once again, I conclude things like this come down to a lack of empathy and an inability to reason consequences for our own actions. Young people, it seems to me, are especially prone to this of late. The news reports are rife with hit-and-run cases. It almost feels like hit-and-run is now standard procedure rather than an aberration.
In this case, in addition to jail, the judge also suspended her driver’s license for five years. That feels woefully insignificant to me. Without significant consequences, behavior will not change. She should have lost her driving privileges for life. Not merely because she drove drunk but because of all the choices she made.
Prison isn’t exactly known as a system that churns out improved persons. So, apparently, our future has the possibility of this woman back behind the wheel. I do not like the thought of that.
Boo freakin’ hoo. To my way of thinking that’s like worrying about one turd shitting on another.
Still, I thought it might be a good idea to reminisce a few moments about the proverbial good times of ye olde mom and pop. The good old days and the “little man” of Alan Jackson lore.
Brick and mortar? Mom and pop? Who the hell is in charge of naming this shit? Dr. Seuss? Family jewels are found in aisle 42. Bait and tackle in aisle 69. That reminds me: “Clean up on aisle 69!”
I’ve already written quite a bit about Mr. Online Entrepreneur. He’s slippery, slimy and makes jackals and amebas seem like highly evolved life forms. He lies about everything including – most especially – that the product you want is “in stock.” Then he gets your money and you wait weeks to find out if you’ll ever get the product he just totally lied about or if you’ll ever get your money back. Good times.
How about Mr. Brick Mortar? How does he compare? And who is this guy?
Does the plethora of dings on the side of your car give you any kind of freakin’ clue?
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If only I can find a place to park. Dammit. That’s literally whack. The parking gods have granted you a reprieve.
The keyboard is mightier than the tommy gun, so I’m not going to use bullets. My weapon of choice is this bluetooth keyboard.
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