GarageLove: A Corner Station In My Backyard
A friend of mine pointed out that that it was pretty funny that many of the houses he saw on his morning commute had a corner station in the backyard. Puzzled, I asked RJ what the heck he was talking about. “Gazebos—everyone has a prefabbed gazebo on their property it seems—that’s what a lot of race tracks use as worker stations.”
I hadn't looked at them that way before, but he certainly was right. Roebling Road, Road Atlanta and Carolina Motorsports Park, among others, use the familiar ready-made white gazebos or other prefabbed sheds at various points around their circuit as handy places for the workers to watch for dangerous conditions and warn approaching drivers.
My mind wandered—wouldn’t it be cool if that instead of that unmarked police cruiser tucked in the weeds, we had highway safety crews in one of those gazebos watching for issues and alerting passing motorists? I think the highways of America might be a safer place.
If the government really wanted our highways to be safe—and not just meet an mandated speed limit—then they would put the safety workers out there in bright white jumpsuits, give them bright orange gloves and a bunch of flags—and maybe our nation’s highways would be safer.
I am exaggerating a bit—that’s not a practical solution as-is, but there must be some way to look at traffic patterns and issues with observers and officials acting on the ground to improve safety—not revenue generation.
On my morning commute, there are two things that I can count on. There will be an unmarked cop on the left side of the road after a long downslope heading out of the city. There will also be a massive traffic jam about six miles up the road where another highway joins and then splits away. The resulting cluster usually backs up traffic due to regular accidents that make a mess of things.
Would it be possible to change how the local and state police as well as the federal transportation agencies focus their efforts? Instead of that speed trap, I’d like to see safety vehicles stationed at regular intervals around major metropolitan highways: wreckers, ambulances and safety trucks that are set up for rapid response. This would reduce the long lag time (and traffic back-ups) that we typically see after relatively minor accidents.
While some toll roads and municipalities have some aspects of this, there could be a way to look at the club racing track worker as a model for early warning and rapid response teams on public roads.
Now, just like at the track—where a pit lane and paddock speed limit is strictly enforced—I’m a strong proponent of penalties for speeding where there’s a potential for pedestrian traffic. Neighborhoods, school zones and urban areas are all appropriate for fair and reasonable speed limit monitoring.
This is a short putt here: don’t be a dumbass and you won’t get a ticket in these situations. My last speeding ticket was actually in just such a situation. I gladly paid the fine—I was not paying attention and was speeding in a residential area. I deserved it.
Our goal in traffic safety should be communication of dangerous conditions first, rapid response second and revenue generation a distant third. We could shift the focus towards real-time proactive alerts to drivers about real dangers that are seen every day and respond quicker to true emergencies. Save the LEO time for patrolling where people live to keep folks safe.