Created on Monday, 19 September 2011 21:46
|Cartoon by Aaron Fairbanks | The Appalachian|
Let’s pretend you’re slowly strolling on a sidewalk and there’s a giant puddle in front of you. Seeing it ahead of time, you walk around it.
Now let’s say there’s another person walking briskly toward the puddle, unaware of the wet mess they’re about to happen upon.
Would you warn them? Or would you not tell them, solely because if they had been walking a little slower, they would have seen the puddle in time to avoid it?
The same thing happened in Florida last week.
Erich Campbell, 38, of Land O’Lakes, Fla., flashed his lights to coming traffic to signal an upcoming police speed check. Shortly after, Campbell was issued a ticket for flashing lights, which are only legal if it’s a turn signal.
Campbell “filed a class action suit which says Florida Statute 316.2397 – under which Campbell was cited – does not prohibit the flashing of headlights as a means of communications, nor does it in any way reference flashing headlights or the use of high beams,” according to wtsp.com.
Campbell’s lawsuit also claims that Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) “is well aware they are wrongfully applying the state law and they are doing it as a means of generating revenue. In 2005, a court order was even issued saying the state law doesn’t prohibit the flashing of vehicle headlights.”
Due to Campbell’s lawsuit, FHP and Orange County sheriff’s office have suspended writing tickets for this offense.
The problem is, the law is the same in North Carolina.
Here, as in Florida, law enforcement should follow the lead of the FHP and the Orange County sheriff’s office and stop writing tickets for this offense.
It shouldn’t be illegal for drivers to signal other drivers about a speed trap—it should be considered “freedom of speech.” It’s my right to communicate with other drivers, whether I am showing them how to count to one or if I am warning them about a speed trap.
According to nhtsa.dot.gov, in 2008, speeding was a contributing factor in 31 percent of all fatal crashes, and 11,674 lives were lost in speeding-related crashes.
Yet here’s a no-brainer. If you don’t think speeding drivers should be warned about speed traps, don’t warn them.
The option should be left up for the drivers to decide, not the police.
Straka, a sophomore journalism major from Hickory, is a senior lifestyles reporter.