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February 2020
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Yes to more traffic enforcement on local roads

By Dan Pool, Editor

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I was coming along one of our winding, mountain, residential roads Sunday and met a driver in an SUV going about 60 mph and doing surprisingly well at keeping it on his side of the yellow line considering the speed and angle of the turn.

I would have loved to ask if I could have yelled when he went by, “What are you thinking?” Literally.

I don’t get too worked up on road rage. I was genuinely curious what the driver was thinking. Specifically, was it something like, “There’s no chance that a deer, child, stopped car, or anything would possibly be in the road around this curve.” Or maybe, “I am such a great driver that even if I find something unexpected blocking my route while going too fast I can manage it.” Or maybe something like, “I hate my life and everyone else’s so if I slam into some poor guy backing out of a driveway I don’t care much.”

Any number of times over the years, we have covered court stories here and seen them in other places where (usually) some younger male was emotionally pleading at a sentencing something to effect of, “I didn’t mean for anyone to get hurt.” And they look like they mean it.

When you are going excessively fast on a country road, particularly those in north Georgia with dips, tight curves and steep grades you may not be intentionally looking to cause pain and suffering but you surely aren’t doing much to prevent it either.

So, in response to Sheriff Donnie Craig’s recent query to all residents on their views of tighter traffic enforcement in school zones, we give an emphatic yes and suggest he extend more traffic coverage to non-school zones as well.

If the county reaps a little extra revenue, that’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Put it to good use buying patrol cars; you are keeping us safer. 

Pickens County government and their sign technician generate regular speed reports, which are forwarded to the sheriff’s office and the Progress which show clearly speed is a problem. Nathan Jones, who conducts these speed studies, always points out there is a national formula to formally declare speeding problems. But, he doesn’t rely on it since so many of the local roads are really unsafe if someone goes much over the speed limit as they are narrow and curvy and steep. This is a mountainous county, not a safe place to put the pedal to the metal.

We realize that in general law enforcement is leery of speed crack downs as they aren’t popular. But when you rationally consider what is a real threat to your life, reckless driving is in the bullseye. 

It’s much easier to worry about terrorists, active shooters, illegal immigrants or climate change than to hassle the lead-footed neighbor or nice lady down the street who drives like a bat out of hell, or that busy middle-aged man who just couldn’t resist seeing what that text said while behind the wheel.

But according to odds compiled by the National Safety Council "Injury Facts" and published by the businessinsider.com, except for health issues (cancer, heart disease and such), the car is a good bet for what might get you.

Your lifetime odds of dying in a motor vehicle incident are 1 in 103 while your odds of dying in a mass shooting are 1 in 11,125. 

In America we get emotional over mass shootings. But in reality you are 100 times more likely to die driving to some place than being shot while there.

According to Wikipedia, in 2018 if you count every shooting where there were multiple victims, 323 people were killed. 

But that same year, the National Safety Council estimates that 40,000 people in the United States died in roadway deaths. Looking back that figure is consistent at around the 40,000 mark for years 2016 and 2017. As a nation we are not making improvements on highway deaths.

So, yes, we are all for more traffic enforcement.