No More Socialist Roads

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Recently by Eric Peters: A Small Thing Can Lead to Big Trouble

Thoreau said, strike at the root. Ok. Here goes: If roads were not government-owned all the abuses currently perpetrated by the state upon harming-no-one motorists would disappear.

For instance:

One of the excuses given in support of our dumbed-down traffic laws is that it’s necessary to accommodate . . . dumbed-down drivers. Speed limits and no-passing zones and no right on red, ever (even in the middle of the night when even Stevie Wonder could see there’s no opposing traffic coming) are all based on the idea that because some people – duly licensed – can’t safely do them then no one may legally do them, irrespective of whether they can do these things safely. (In court, it is irrelevant whether what you did was “safe” or not. The only consideration is whether you violated the law.)

I once wasted an entire Saturday attending one of those hairshirt “traffic school” things the judge will sometimes assign in lieu of a moving violation, in the way of “giving you a break.” (You still pay a huge fine, of course – but you get to avoid the points on your DMV record and thus the more enduring insurance screwing.) Anyhow, I listened as the “instructor” (a cop!) told us that “one day we’ll all be old” and that’s why we should sit patiently behind the addled geezer doing 37 in a 55 and under no circumstances pass him, unless there is a legal passing zone.

Of which there are increasingly few – because of addled geezers (and others) who can’t handle the responsibility.

If the roads were privately owned, the addled and inept could be told – nicely and politely: We’re very sorry but you’re not quite up to operating a vehicle safely on this road. You will have to make other arrangements. We know of an excellent driver-training program. Here is their phone number.


This is not such a strange idea when you stop to think about it a little. I sometimes do track days – driving a car or riding a motorcycle on a race track. The track is privately owned. The owners (or the people renting the venue for the day) can pluck people off the road or deny them admittance if they deem them not up to snuff to driving/riding on the track.

It’s called red flagging.

If government owned the race track, the reverse would happen. The capable drivers and riders would be forced to accommodate the inept ones – and penalized if they didn’t – irrespective of their competence. They would get “red flagged” – in the form of fines and so on, as happens every day on roads and highways all over the country. This is the system we have. And it’s why we have the hassles and idiocy we have. The routine penalizing and throttling of people who haven’t done anything other than run afoul of some edict set forth to accommodate the inept. Think about the inherent meanness of velocity violations (i.e., “speeding”). It is the very essence of an arbitrary offense and victimless crime. Or right on red. You’re issued a ticket for no other reason than that you decided not to defer to the mindless judgment of an electrically illuminated filament as opposed to the judgment of your own brain and the data fed to it by your perfectly functioning eyes. But because there are people who cannot see well – or whose judgment is impaired – you will be punished for exercising yours.


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Eric Peters [send him mail] is an automotive columnist and author of Automotive Atrocities and Road Hogs (2011). Visit his website.

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