Rethinking Roadway Safety: Do Traffic Laws and DUI Laws Really Keep People Safe?Submitted by RobHino on Sat, 02/23/2013 - 01:55
A fellow DPer posted on this discussion in 2010. At first glance, most may come down hard on the idea of "legalizing" "drunk" driving.
I'd like to open up a serious discussion on the points brought up by Lew Rockwell in this essay titled, Legalize Drunk Driving, Nov 2000.
Clinton has signed a bill passed by Congress that orders the states to adopt new, more onerous drunk-driving standards or face a loss of highway funds. That's right: the old highway extortion trick. Sure enough, states are already working to pass new, tighter laws against Driving Under the Influence, responding as expected to the feds' ransom note.
Now the feds declare that a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 percent and above is criminal and must be severely punished. The National Restaurant Association is exactly right that this is absurdly low. The overwhelming majority of accidents related to drunk driving involve repeat offenders with blood-alcohol levels twice that high. If a standard of 0.1 doesn't deter them, then a lower one won't either.
But there's a more fundamental point. What precisely is being criminalized? Not bad driving. Not destruction of property. Not the taking of human life or reckless endangerment. The crime is having the wrong substance in your blood. Yet it is possible, in fact, to have this substance in your blood, even while driving, and not commit anything like what has been traditionally called a crime.
What have we done by permitting government to criminalize the content of our blood instead of actions themselves? We have given it power to make the application of the law arbitrary, capricious, and contingent on the judgment of cops and cop technicians. Indeed, without the government's "Breathalyzer," there is no way to tell for sure if we are breaking the law.
Sure, we can do informal calculations in our head, based on our weight and the amount of alcohol we have had over some period of time. But at best these will be estimates. We have to wait for the government to administer a test to tell us whether or not we are criminals. That's not the way law is supposed to work. Indeed, this is a form of tyranny.
Now, the immediate response goes this way: drunk driving has to be illegal because the probability of causing an accident rises dramatically when you drink. The answer is just as simple: government in a free society should not deal in probabilities. The law should deal in actions and actions alone, and only insofar as they damage person or property. Probabilities are something for insurance companies to assess on a competitive and voluntary basis.
Remember, "It is the mark of an educated man to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." - Aristotle
Is DUI a crime if you don't harm anyone?
Also, what are your thoughts on traffic laws in general?
Are you familiar with these observations and experiments?
During the power cut we filmed this intersection (Union St + Wellington). We filmed again at exactly the same time the next day for a comparison.
Portishead lights-off trial which began on 14 September 2009 and went permanent after journey times fell by over half with no loss of pedestrian safety: http://youtu.be/vi0meiActlU
Tehran/Iran: Flow of traffic across a major crossroads w/o traffic lights: http://youtu.be/gkMA2HfFrzA
How do you envision roadway travel in a completely free society? Other modes of transportation?
I always allude to the fact that sometimes we just don't know what the free market will provide as a solution. The way I put it is, we can't predict the future with absolute certainty. Just like your great, great, great grandfather could not predict that we'd be able to send voice from city to city with little pocket computers, I can't predict how a free people will deal with reckless drivers and neighborhood drunks. I do have some rough ideas that I'm willing to discuss in the comment section if anyone is interested.
What say you DPers?
I like this topic because everyone hates traffic, and everyone can relate to it. Also, there is a lot of evidence against putting up imaginary walls in the middle of speeding vehicles. If people can grasp this idea that what they thought was helping them out and keeping them safe, turned out to be an inefficient scheme to fund municipal bureaucrats, then perhaps they could see the bigger picture and shed more dependance and love for the State.