What do speeders tell their children about why they break the law?

September 15, 2012

It is most amusing to see the controversy surrounding speed cameras and the revenue they generate ("Speeding drivers get the blame," Sept. 13). I wonder what we tell our children sitting in the back seat. When they say, "Daddy, why are you speeding?" do we explain that "Daddy doesn't have to obey the laws," or do we say "Because almost everybody else is doing it too?"

We claim to be a democratic country, and as such we elect officials to administer highway construction and safety enforcement on the public streets. We all own the highways together. The officials that "we, the people" elect and appoint to manage traffic safety are usually highly educated, experienced engineers and traffic experts with significant experience.

"We, the people" count on them to study the weights and speeds of vehicles, accident and speed-related statistics, designs of the road, signage and state-of-the-art construction techniques and materials to make the family pleasure trip as safe as the delivery truck, or a school bus on a rainy day. Intelligent, sincere, hard-working experts (who we have "hired" through our elected government process) they are usually the ones who know the speed limits and road conditions relationship better than the average good driver.

The point is, if the revenue brought in by catching speeders on camera — whether they are sweet old ladies on their way to church or college students on their way to the homecoming game — that revenue represents a legitimate income taken out of the pocket of the lawbreaker, whether it is you or me, dear reader. Tickets can be contested in court, if you think you are innocent or should be excepted from complying with the laws.

As a matter of fact, if we really were seeking more income for the state, the Baltimore Beltway is a classic example of where technology would pay for almost any bills we have as a state. By that, I mean that the posted speed limit often is ignored, and "Indy 500" mentality prevails with impunity for the tailgaters eager to go 65, 75, and more.

If you want no cameras, tell your elected representatives. If you want more traffic patrols in certain areas, tell your elected representatives. If you want faster speed limits to be posted, tell your elected representatives.

The bigger question, however, is: What are you going to tell your children about your own speeding and why the laws do not apply to you? What are you going to tell the parents of the child who was hit by a speeding car because the driver didn't like the "big brother" cameras? Will you say "Oh, traffic cameras are just cash cows? " If camera-enforced safety is what it takes for drivers, supposedly adults, to obey their own laws, then bring in herds of those cash cows.

Edgar C. Ludwig, Baltimore

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