Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Book 'em, boys

In another trademark pandering editorial, The Saratogian has given an unabashed thumbs up to the state, county and local police for stopping hundreds, if not thousands of motorists on Route 50 earlier this month in a so-called “sweep."

In announcing the net, law enforcement’s top brass decided to make the traffic-choked route to sprawlville a new preying ground to cull cash from hundreds of generally law-abiding drivers. And from the high-and-mighty tone of the column, it doesn’t appear as though one of those drivers was Managing Editor Barbara Lombardo.

In general, drivers were netted for the standard speeding violations, according to The Saratogian. Others were cited for violations such as hand held cell phone use –something the city police can often be seen doing –following too closely and lane change violations, whatever that means.

Cops also had the nifty advent of a $20,000 computerized video surveillance system during the bust, allowing them to profile any drivers stopped within the past month without moving as much as a hand off the steering wheel. See, when a street cop logs a license plate into the state Department of Motor Vehicle’s databank, that tag remains flagged for a period of time. This flag is then picked up by the surveillance system, which alerts the officer to stop the motorist for whatever violation the cop can most readily spot. Sound Orwellian? You Bet.

Sure, there are plenty of bad drivers throughout the county’s roadways. One arbitrary crack down, however, especially along a heavily trafficked road, isn’t going to do much else other than line state and local coffers while further clogging a roadway that causes more congestion than the standard a sinus infection.

Were Lombardo to actually live in the world outside of the editorial page, perhaps she would have made note of the real problem along Route 50: there’s simply too many cars driving along it. On any given weekend, it takes roughly 15 minutes to travel this four-mile distance. And that’s during the off-season when the cops aren’t hassling motorists. Doing the math, that’s an average speed of 12 mph, which frankly isn’t that aggressive on a four-lane highway with a median.

But once the city gets the taste of the financial windfall of more than 100 traffic tickets being issued in a week, it’s likely that “aggressive driver sweep” will become the next big thing, perhaps replacing the late-night DWI checkpoints along the same stretch of road. After all, it’s probably better to catch some moron yapping on a cell phone rather than the tipplers pouring out of the city every Sunday morning like booze from a bottle of cheap liquor.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Alger:

First of all, I thought Ragged Dick was a terrific book. And I had no idea that you were still alive! And speaking of "ragged dick," do not use the cheese grater for any other purpose than grating cheese. And as far as Route 50 goes, it is good to see that Saratoga is finally becoming a Police State; somebody needs to protect those gleaming new businesses on Broadway. And won't those pesky service industry people just go home after their shift? Thanks for the surf-and-turf, but I don't want to see you at the bar at 11. Could the city sponser a shuttle that carts away all the restaurant help? Maybe then we wouldn't need so much police protection!


10:50 AM  

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