Monday, October 24, 2005

The Shucet Solution: Improve Safety

In the last 12 months there were 154,000 crashes on Virginia roads. Many of them involved injuries and fatalities, which makes improved traffic safety a worthy goal in itself. But traffic accidents also contribute to traffic congestion. Even when wrecked cars are pulled to the side of the road, rubber neckers slow down to gawk and traffic can back up for miles.

In a letter to the Senate task force studying transportation, former Virginia Department of Transportation Commissioner Philip Shucet suggested that one way to improve traffic congestion is to invest in more enforcement and safety patrol officers. Wrote Shucet:

“Egged on by the frustration of congestion, people are driving too fast, following too closely, and changing lanes too carelessly. Traffic flows at its smoothest when moving at posted speeds. It may be prudent to invest a portion of new transportation funds in additional officers to enforce traffic laws, and added safety service patrols to clear incidents rapidly when they occur.”

Investing in brighter signs and pavement markings could help prevent accidents, he added. The material exists to improve the reflectivity, or brightness, of highway signs. Likewise, the material exists to make pavement markings more visible, even in wet weather.

Although Shucet did not note it in his letter, his proposal resembles a plank in Jerry Kilgore’s transportation platform. The Republican nominee for governor recommends increasing fines for traffic violators on the grounds that their reckless behavior could result in accidents that create gridlock. Levying fines on traffic violators could provide a revenue stream to pay for the hiring of extra state police and incident-management teams


At 7:44 AM, Blogger Ray Hyde said...

You have to wonder when you see an accident investigation with dozens of responders and several vehicles on scene, and no one is assigned to direct traffic.

Also, more and more vehicles are equipped with computers to monitor fuel and engine performance and brakes. Already these are used in accident investigations to determine what the vehicle was doing immediately before the crash.

If the capabilites of these devices was improved and their use in accident investigations was widely known, then people might drive more carefully knowing that they cannot avoid culpability for bad actions. In addidition such "black boxes" would avoid the problems caused by red light cameras. Frequently, a driver may make a rational decision when a light changes yellow on him, only to be nabbed for a technical infraction. Data recorders do not have the privacy issues that cameras have and they only come into play when something goes wrong.

At 8:15 PM, Blogger Toomanytaxes said...

Amen! One of the most important functions for public safety officials at accident scenes is to control and direct traffic. Get things moving safely. But it never happens here or anywhere else.

At 9:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A coworker told me today that route 29 was closed for over eight hours for an accident investigation.


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