Traffic, Transportation And A Trip

Bob Jones
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Wednesday - January 11, 2006
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I don’t have all the answers to very bad driving habits, but some traffic cameras and a little embarrassment seem worth our consideration.

In Tennessee, for instance, first-time convicted drunken drivers must do 24 hours of roadside cleanup while wearing orange vests with the words “I Am A Drunk Driver.”

“You cause them to go out and pick up trash in front of their friends and neighbors, the embarrassment is going to be such that they’re never going to want to go through that again,” says the law’s sponsor, state Rep. Charles Curtiss. “Hopefully you can turn them around to never become a second-time offender.”

Not everyone thinks that’s a great idea. Some human behavior experts say it will make the vest wearers feel even worse about themselves and cause them to drink more.

Tennessee DUI offenders have to spend at least one day in jail, then three eight-hour cleanup shifts wearing the vests. The previous minimum sentence there for driving under the influence was 48 hours in jail.

Ohio requires yellow license plates with red letters for some convicted drunken drivers, and other states use less obvious coding on tags to alert police about DUI convictions.

Now let’s talk about red light runners and problem speeders.

We should have gone for intersection cameras. We should have accepted some version of the van cams. Both would have been good for us. But I guess there’s a libertarian streak in most motorists. Leave me alone.

At least 40 cities have put in red light cameras. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says red light runners cause more than 260,000 crashes each year, 800 of them fatal. Nearly 60 percent of drivers admit to running red lights, yet 96 percent say they fear that someone else will run a red light and hit them.

We can’t even put a minimally visible-at-night sign mauka-bound on Kalakaua at Kapiolani saying “left turn on arrow only.” The tiny ones currently posted are glared out at night by the straight-ahead green light. Drivers jump left into oncoming traffic all the time. Nobody in city traffic seems to notice.

We’re becoming the Wild West of traffic. Not quite as bad as Phoenix, but we’re working on that.

The Advertiser gives private transport advocate Cliff Slater lots of column space to whack at public transit proposals, and maybe some naysaying is good for us.

But Slater suffers from premature evaluation. You can’t have a cost-to-benefit reading until you’ve picked the route alternatives and the type-of-transit alternatives.

It’s like buying a house. You pick a couple of OK neighborhoods and a couple of types of OK housing. Then you see what’s available at what prices. You decide if you should buy or stick with the present house or rental unit.

Same with mass transit.

Anybody out there as amused as I was by the UH basketball promotion ad which read:

“Register for a chance to win a trip to Las Vegas at half-time”?

That would be the fastest Hawaii-to-Vegas flight in history, with minimal time for a drink, a hand of poker or a bathroom stop.

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