Friday, February 11, 2011

STOP B4 Right Turn

There is idiocy afoot in the State House and Senate chambers in Tennessee and the new session is less than a month old.

Senate Bill 0425, sponsored by Republican Stacey Campfield, and its companion, House Bill 0437, sponsored by Republican Matthew Hill, seem like, on the initial view, to be innocuous. But take a wee closer look, my friends, and you will see the dangers of allowing these bills to pass.

Presently, the language in Tennessee Code Annotated (TCA), Section 55-8-110(a)(3)(A), basically calls for a vehicle operator to completely and fully stop at all intersections. They must also yield the right-of-way to pedestrians and cross traffic traveling in accordance with their traffic signal. Further, the action of the intended primary operator is not to endanger other traffic lawfully using the same intersection.

The language requiring the absolute stopping of the primary operator's vehicle would be replaced by verbiage that will allow the operator to forego making a complete stop. Further, they must only, "slow down their vehicle when entering the intersection and make the right turn on red with caution."

This can, however, only occur if one other condition is met: If said driver is, "certain no other vehicles or pedestrians are approaching."

In effect, what is presently an adequate, fairly concise, and effective piece of language is being replaced with a bunch of mumbo-jumbo requiring a vehicle operator to overthink the situation. Not only must a vehicle operator think about where they are coming from and where they are going, but they will also have to subjectively consider if they feel (and this part of the language is repeated on purpose), "certain no other vehicles or pedestrians are approaching," when the primary vehicle is entering the intersection.

I don't know much about the two gentlemen sponsoring this legislation in their respective chambers. But I do know they obviously have done very little observing a great deal of Tennessee drivers, especially those who operate vehicles in major urban traffic centers. Although the law is written for statewide application, those areas will be where the greatest concentration and application will be found.

Now, most vehicle operators are conscientious and safe while behind the wheel. In a perfect world there would be no need to consider ramifications for "Legislation FAIL." But we do not live in Utopia. We live in a society where an exorbitant number of Bubba's and Bubbette's have the license to drive a motor vehicle. Some of these people can't chew gum and walk at the same time.

Quite frankly I see multiple cases daily where caution + motor vehicle operation fit like polar opposites. If this legislation were about the two activities of walking and chewing gum simultaneously, we could all breathe a bit easier if passage were to occur. But it is not. As such, even one tragic result of "Legislation FAIL" could mean somebody dies.

To paraphrase one of the new adminstration's campaign slogans, "Is this legislation language change really good for Tennessee? No . . . of course not."

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