AAA has picked the right battles

As the summer season approaches each year to this area, a great amount of thought for many individuals turns to traffic. There are concerns about over-stressed roads, getting behind that person who seemingly wanders down the road aimlessly and, of course, accidents — both vehicle-on-vehicle, and involving pedestrians or bicyclists.

As we went to deadline this week, the Delaware State General Assembly has been hearing three safety traffic bills, and AAA Mid-Atlantic has been aggressive in trying to convince lawmakers that passing these bills is vital to public safety.

The Senate Public Safety Committee was scheduled to look at HS 1 to HB 229, which would ban texting and hand-held cell phone use by drivers on Delaware highways. Delaware is somewhat late to the party on this issue, as several states have already gone forward on such bans.

This really should be a no-brainer. The law would not restrict people from talking on the phone while they drive, as long as drivers use a hands-free device. Though it could be somewhat hard to enforce, as it would generally require police to specifically see someone using a device, the legal ban of the practice would certainly deter some motorists from texting and driving.

That could save lives by itself.

HB 434, which is basically the creation of a “left-lane” law, is another item that has grabbed the attention of AAA. This law, if passed, would require slow traffic to stay right, and leave the left lane open for passing. AAA suggests that this would reduce road rage and aggressive driving incidents, by freeing up space for people to move past slow drivers.

We agree the law should be passed, for reasons of relieving some traffic issues, however, we disagree that laws should be made specifically to reduce the possibilities of road rage. It is not slower drivers that cause the problem in road rage incidents, it is the driver who can’t control his or her emotions who is at fault. Regardless, we do agree that the law should be passed.

The third item that AAA has been monitoring closely is SB 269, which enhances the penalties for inattentive driving . This would greatly enhance the penalty for a careless driver who causes injury to “vulnerable” users of the road (pedestrians, highway workers, people on bicycles, etc.) in the public right of way, such as a crosswalk or shoulder.

We understand the desire of this bill, and support it, because we generally support stiffer penalties for crimes that harm others, as well as those that could serve as a deterrant.

We support AAA in their causes, and hope the state passes all three bills.