April 28, 2009

Work-zone cameras make all of us safer

Marylanders will be safer traveling our highways thanks to legislation authorizing speed cameras in construction work zones ("Childish behavior is behind 'nanny laws,'" April 20).

This new tool will encourage drivers to do what we all should do: drive responsibly, stay alert and obey posted speed limits.

And with clear signs offering advance warning of speed cameras, this will not be a matter of "gotcha." The overriding goal is to slow drivers to a safe and uniform speed, not catch speeders. Indeed we hope that there will be no need to issue speeding citations at all.

People who excessively speed endanger themselves and everyone around them, particularly in construction zones, where workers walk adjacent to the thunder of traffic armored with only vests and plastic helmets.

Even when crews are not present, work zones present less than ideal driving conditions, including narrowed or shifted lanes, concrete barriers, uneven pavement, dust, relocated signs and stopped traffic. In fact, national statistics indicate that in four out of five work-zone crashes, it is a driver or passenger who is injured or killed.

Studies also show that drivers often ignore speed limits in construction areas and police enforcement is nearly impossible within the constrained space of work zones.

Given that excessive speed is a major factor in fatal crashes and given the vulnerability of both motorists and workers in these zones, safer work zones will mean safer roads for us all.

John D. Porcari, Hanover

The writer is secretary of the Maryland Department of Transportation.

Texting, driving an unsafe blend

The colorful letter "Texting ban invites abuse by police" (April 8) criticized "90-day wonder" legislators who "have really put their foot into a mess" by passing a bill to ban texting while driving.

The letter writer points out that there are other distractions on the roads, such as people shaving, doing their make-up, etc., that are already dangerous.

And indeed, I couldn't agree more about the myriad sources of distraction out there. So why should we add another irrational driving behavior to the list by allowing texting while driving?

Texting and driving do not go together. Period.

Jaye Dansicker, Sparks

Threat of gunfire limits our liberty

In response to Dan Rodricks' column "On guns, we lost an opportunity" (April 21), I would say that as a nation and a people, we cannot be too vain or too fearful to address gun violence and find new ways prevent it.

The National Rifle Association and its allies would have everyone believe that any form of gun control is a slippery slope to banning guns entirely.

But are seat-belt laws and speed limits a slippery slope to banning cars?

The truth is that the NRA represents a small minority of American gun owners and that although most Americans support the right of law-abiding citizens to own guns, most also support tougher gun laws.

For all the banter about Second Amendment freedoms and gun rights, we are not truly free if we are not free from fear and free from violence in our communities and homes.

Mike Fox, Charlottesville, Va.

Can't we have fun with pirate past?

I was stunned but somehow not surprised to see that two letter writers had problems with Privateer Week ("Pirates always just extortionists" and "Promoting pirates tests limits of taste," letters, April 20).

Good grief: There truly are some in academe and other occupations who wouldn't recognize fun if it had a parrot on its shoulder.

Tim Marshallsay, Baltimore

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