Driver arrested in quintuple(!) fatality — excessive speed and red-light-running alledged

A driver was arrested on suspicion of five counts of manslaughter (see homicide categories) and 3 aggravated assaults. What makes this unusual is the absence of suspicion of DUI. We shall see what the prosecutor does with it. This is a tantalizing comment: “data recorded when the truck’s airbags deployed substantiated detectives’ findings that Myers was driving at ‘an excessive speed,’ “. Data recorder? We (the public) often hear that these sorts of crashes are tragedies but not crimes — because the prosecutor claims that they can’t prove anything. Continue reading Driver arrested in quintuple(!) fatality — excessive speed and red-light-running alledged

The Disneyland Model

John Semmens is an AZDOT project manager who also writes free-market oriented policy papers — he is perhaps best known locally for his vociferous opposition to Phoenix’s light rail. John is now affiliated with the Independent Institute — a free-market-leaning think-tank that I had heretofore not heard of. He had an op-ed published last Saturday in the Wall Street Journal that contained some novel, perhaps radical, ideas about how private auto insurance should be used as a lever against dangerous drivers; he dubs this the “Disneyland model”, and makes some good points. Though, he does not even mention the role of law (criminal) enforcement (as in criminal charges: homicide, assault)… perhaps he was space-limited. Also, his general idea — privatizing licensure — seems sound but how would this help the problems caused by those who  simply go without? In any event it is a welcome look at publicizing one facet of the problems created by private automobile usage.

What is the deal with the 39,000 deaths figure? Fatalities have been running around 43,000.

The full text is here:  On the Road. September 1, 2007 op-ed, John Semmens, Wall Street Journal

Continue reading The Disneyland Model

Double Jeopardy and Flawed Logic

ARS §28-1592 specifies the time limit for bringing a civil traffic violation. Sort of like the “statute of limitations” for traffic tickets. The normal limit is 60/90 days, but for alleged violations when there is a wreck and investigation the limit is 180 days, and extends to a full year if a fatality is involved.

The rub is that police (cities? jurisdictions?) won’t issue complaints for a traffic violation if there is any sort of ongoing investigation, an incipient neg hom/manslaughter charge for example… and these things do seem like they can drag on forever. They appear to do this in an overabundance of caution — claiming “double jeopardy” issues. As far as I can tell there can be no double jeopardy between civil and criminal.

The end result is that drivers who would clearly be found responsible for a traffic infraction frequently end up getting off scot free; when the criminal case falls through for whatever reason. See e.g. Kandas. Or sometimes it is just an oversight on the part of police. It seems clear that the driver responsible for the Eades fatality could have / should have been cited for §28-701 “failure to control”.

Talk about getting away with murder…

Yet police didn’t confiscate her driver’s license. Had this been a DUI case, Sgt. Joel Tranter told me, they would have taken it and notified the state Motor Vehicle Division so it could administratively suspend Gilbert’s license. But police don’t pursue DUI charges in manslaughter cases, for fear of jeopardizing the more serious charges.

“The (administrative suspension) law does not apply to homicide or aggravated assault cases because those are criminal,” Tranter explained. “They aren’t traffic investigations.”

In other words, if you drive drunk, you lose your license. But if you drive drunk and kill someone, you can keep driving.

Hentoff [the victim’s family’s attorney] calls the police department’s interpretation of the law “absolutely flawed logic.”

Driver in DUI-death case still at the wheel, Laurie Roberts, The Arizona Republic. Aug. 25, 2007

We’ve heard this double jeopardy business before from the police department, Continue reading Double Jeopardy and Flawed Logic

High cost of free parking

A prominent “negative externality” of suburban living is the so-called free parking spot. Since the users, that is customers arriving in private automobiles, do not pay for its use economic inefficiencies inevitably result. It is normally supposed that the proprietor pays for parking facilities as a cost of business however that is often perverted by subsidies granted by government

 

Continue reading High cost of free parking

11 people die in Valley traffic crashes over 5-day period

This is the sort of story that runs from time to time. Not front page news, by any stretch — it was buried in the B section. Motorists killing motorists. So much negligence, so little responsibility — maybe a few traffic tickets.

This is juxtaposed over the nationwide media din of the Minneapolis bridge collapse. Indeed, the front page today still is crammed with ever more stories of the aftermath. One of today’s lead stories was that the death toll, currently 5 confirmed and 8 still missing, seems miraculously low. Over 42,000 dead in traffic crashes last year — 0 of which were from bridge collapses.

Continue reading 11 people die in Valley traffic crashes over 5-day period

Book: “Future Energy”

I read the book Future Energy: How the new oil industry will change people, politics and portfolios. The author is Bill Paul.

It was ok. His idea was to explain various opportunities and identifies specific companies to “watch” (presumably, potential investments).

He believes that “well meaning but misguided people” should stop tring to get Americans to drive less. But then goes on to support the idea of TGR (Tradable Gasoline Rights) which is really just a a government imposed free-market solution to make gasoline more expensive. Which would, of course, lessen demand. He also fully supports the notion that imported oil carries hidden costs and is detrimental to our foreign policy. He quotes Milton Copulos’s testimony before the senate foreign relations committee at length in Appendix B: Primer on Why Gasoline’s True Cost in 2006 was more than $11 a gallon. I should point out that these figures only take into account the externalites surrounding the military, and makes no allowance for any of the many other social costs of gasoline consumption / automobile use (mayhem, pollution, free parking, etc.).

The whole TGR thing is very interesting, but logistically horrendously complex. It was laid out in a WSJ op-ed piece by Martin Feldstein who is a Harvard Economics prof.

Jevon’s Paradox

(also sometimes spelled / misspelled? Jeavon).

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
In economics, the Jevons Paradox is an observation made by William Stanley Jevons, who stated that as technological improvements increase the efficiency with which a resource is used, total consumption of that resource may increase, rather than decrease…

Thus it is a dangerous folly to simply improve efficiency, think hybrid gasoline powered cars. Many, unfortunately including most policymakers, constantly harp on “technical improvements” as a way out of our energy problems. We know that this will likely increase demand. Chalk it up as another victory for the law of unintended consequences.

See also, Pigovian tax.

Cycling, traffic safety, traffic justice, and legal topics; energy, transit and transportion economics