Honolulu Lite


Wednesday, February 13, 2002

Driving while stupid
still biggest danger

With the ill-conceived highway speeding camera program in its death throes, it is time to address the true root of all of our problems on the roads: Driving While Stupid.

I first highlighted the danger that stupid drivers pose to the rest of us many years ago, and yet nothing ever was done to crack down on this peril. By now, I had assumed there'd be specific laws targeting people Driving While Stupid, complete with roadside field stupidity tests. All these years later, where are the Driving While Stupid roadblocks? Where are the Non-Stupid Designated Driver commercials? Where are the Mothers Against Driving Stupid chapters?

Instead, we got a radar camera enforcement program that doesn't cut the stupid drivers out of the herd, but rounds up everybody: The stupid, the semi-bright, the pseudo-intelligencia, the smart alecks, the zany, the clueless, the studious and the misguided.

The system we need to make our roadways safer and more efficient is one that stomps the jack boot of enforcement firmly on the necks of stupid drivers.

In Helsinki, a man was fined $103,600 for speeding. Why? Because in Finland, speeding fines are based on the driver's average income. Anssi Vanjoki was a multimillionaire Nokia executive when he was caught going 47 mph in a 31 mph zone on his Harley Davidson. Putting aside the ludicrous notion that going 47 mph on a Harley Davidson is "speeding," there is something to be said about setting a traffic fine according to how rich someone is. One thing to be said is that it is Commie claptrap. The other thing to say is that it sure would get the attention of those jerks in the Mercedes who think they have more rights to the roadways than, say, some newspaper columnist pickup truck driver from Kaneohe.

As enjoyable as it may be to envision a Mercedes owner getting tapped for $103,000 for going 47 mph down the Pali Highway, excessively rich drivers are not the problem in Hawaii. Excessively stupid drivers are.

So why not set fines according to the stupidity level of the act committed while driving?

People cruising in the passing lane -- the far left lane of a highway -- are a constant menace. The fine for misuse of the passing lane should be at least $80,000 per offense.

Improper use of a freeway onramp should cost 30 or 40 grand. Anyone lighting cigarettes, putting on makeup, making cell phone calls or eating plate lunches -- all the epitome of stupidity while driving -- should be fined $50,000. Driving without insurance would be a jailable offense.

If we concentrated on penalizing stupid drivers, there'd be no traffic jams and fewer accidents. We wouldn't need fancy speeding cameras and computer tickets, just many, many more city buses.

Alo-Ha! Friday compiles odd bits of news from Hawaii
and the world to get your weekend off to an entertaining start.
Charles Memminger also writes Honolulu Lite Mondays,
Wednesdays and Sundays. Send ideas to him at the
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Suite 7-210,
Honolulu 96813, phone 235-6490 or e-mail

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