Texas This I Know...

Texas This I Know...
Texas Farm to Market Road

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Texas "Move Over" law won't work

This story appeared in the Fort Worth Star Telagram [free with sign up]. It recounted the problems and dangers of police officers making traffic stops. The consensus seemed to be that the solution to the problem was to get the driving public to abide by the new Move Over law.

It won't work and here's why: About one person in 300 reacts only to expected things. When they're driving on a freeway they react to the movements of cars around them and that's it! They don't react to the un-expected. These individuals are not stupid, they just wrap their minds in a fog, and expect the road to be clear all the way to the destination. And, incrediblely, this mode will suffice nearly all of the time.

When I was a teenager, I was a flagman at a bridge demolition site on I35, then a four lane freeway, with thousands of cars passing under the bridge every day. It was my job to stop traffic when we were going to set off a dynamite blast. I learned then that some people won't stop. Not because they're mean, or arrogant, or anything, but because a kid with a stop sign is not expected. One woman in a staion wagon stopped only after she'd nearly run me over and I hit her tailfin with my stop sign. I never had a car rear-end another, proving that these people react to the cars around them.

A car stopped on the side of the road with a cop standing beside it is not something one expects on a busy freeway. A cop car sitting on the side of the road even with its lights blinking will not penetrate the mindfog that some people drive in.

The equation goes like this: One driver in an fog of innattention + One cop standing too close to the freeway = Tragedy.

If I was a policeman I'd have people pull WAY over to the side, with at least six feet between the passenger door and the road. If that was impossible, I'd have them get off at the next exit.

"They were supposed to obey the Move Over law" sounds like a contender for Famous Last Words to me.


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