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Solutions to epidemic of bad driving

October 08, 2010

Over the years, numerous letters have appeared on this page speaking to traffic safety issues in our area ("City needs to invest in safer driving," Oct. 5). Most simply urge us to be more careful, a futile admonition since the people who are the most unsafe, both drivers and pedestrians, are probably too self-centered to care, or even read this page.

Periodically, writers speak of the need for better traffic enforcement and stiffer penalties, which we definitely need.

We have all witnessed drivers who seem to be inherently unsuited to driving. They are angry and aggressive, lacking in common sense, timid and fearful, impaired due to advanced age, illness or drug or alcohol abuse, or distractible and lacking a sense of teamwork.

We also see drivers who appear to be genuinely ignorant of our traffic laws. Why are they even allowed to drive? Our current testing system weeds out only a small percentage of such drivers, and many have never had any sort of driver training.

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Instead of putting bandages on gangrene, like installing those wretched speed bumps and ridiculously placed stop signs, shouldn't we be addressing the problems at their source by removing unsafe drivers from behind the wheel?

Many people drive only because they have little or no choice. Having an inexpensive, user-friendly mass transit system that actually takes us where we need to go in a timely fashion would go a long way toward removing unsafe drivers from our streets, not to mention reduce traffic in general.

Yes, it would mean increased taxes, but we would save money in the long run with less killing and maiming, reduced insurance, auto maintenance and parking costs and multiple other such benefits.

Another solution is requiring serious, professional training for all drivers, repeated at regular intervals, and more comprehensive and frequent testing, both written and on the road. This would eliminate those who shouldn't be driving and improve the skills and vehicle code knowledge of those who do drive. Such a program should be paid for by drivers, and implementation could begin almost immediately.

Better enforcement and stiffer penalties should be aimed especially at drug and alcohol abusers. Once a driver has been convicted of DUI, they should immediately lose both their license and vehicle, and permanently on a second offense.

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