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Tropico Perspective:

The drive to circumvent traffic laws

January 26, 2010|By Michael Teahan

I get a lot of flak whenever I mention the fact that I used to live somewhere other than Glendale. Whenever I brought it up before City Council, Bob Yousefian and Dave Weaver would get that same look in their eye my wife gets when I bring up an old girlfriend. In spite of all my assurances that some good will come of the tale, it never seems to get the desired response.

I’m a slow learner, so I am going to keep after it until I get it right. Maybe our new police chief isn’t quite so jealous.

I grew up in a speed trap. Lake Oswego was a small suburb of Portland that never had a lot of trouble, so the Police Department spent countless hours practicing for state marksmanship competitions — which they usually won — and stopping cars that looked like they might think about going too fast. It was a town where people kept and restored old cars because the fear of getting a ticket meant that even a Ford Model A wouldn’t hold up traffic on the freeway.

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For a California driver, it is hell on Earth, and though I may regret it, I think we should bring a little of it to Glendale.

I am a spirited driver, which is a gentler way of saying that I don’t like to drive slowly. But I also know that the social framework that would normally force drivers to comport themselves in a responsible and respectful manner in Glendale doesn’t seem to work.

Perhaps we should have a zero-tolerance policy for drivers who misbehave, not just the ones who are dangerous. I understand that we can’t write tickets all day long, but taking 10 minutes to pull someone over can scare the pants off anyone. If they act like a jerk, then write them a ticket.

Anyone who changes lanes or turns without a signal is just lazy, rolling a stop sign shouts narcissistic self-importance, and using a phone without a Bluetooth only means you aren’t smart enough to hook it up.

And driving with dealer plates just to impress your neighbors is really a pathetic dodge to run red-light cameras. All those “leased” luxury cars without the temporary registration stickers in the window won’t look nearly so fancy in the impound yard.

Severity of punishment isn’t always effective, but certainty is. If driving like an idiot resulted in a better than even chance of getting pulled over, even for a good old-fashioned “talking to,” we might take bad driving decorum down a notch.

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