The MetroWest LAMA meeting on 1/13/2024 heard from Jay Beeber, fellow libertarian and Executive Director of the National Motorists Association to learn more about the threats to the liberty of the motoring public. You can watch the video of the Zoom recording below.
"You've probably heard the term, The War on Cars. That's a real thing." Mr. Beeber said, "There is a movement in the country to make driving as difficult and expensive as possible, so that you use your car less, or don't use it at all."
Transportation policy in the USA has historically had the goal of moving goods and people as efficiently and safely as possible. That policy is over.
Motorists are now facing an onslaught of laws, regulations, and policies to make driving less attractive.
Federal transportation officials are now promoting "Vision Zero" which purports to have zero traffic fatalities as a goal. What it really does is adopt the radical "victim/oppressor" ideology to cast drivers as oppressors with undeserving privilege. They promote a goal of zero traffic deaths regardless of costs, including the costs of lives lost when emergency vehicles can not respond to the emergency in time.
"The first responders are very upset about this. We have video from a number of cities where someone's having an emergency, and it's taking forever for the ambulance or firetruck to get there, because of these policies."
Policing for Profit
Another aspect of the War on Cars is the increasing adoption of automated enforcement, such as red light cameras. Municipalities are also lowering speed limits unreasonably for the purpose of revenue generation through tickets rather than safety.
Mr. Beeber described how speed limits used to be determined by traffic engineers who studied the conditions of the road and measured the speed that drivers naturally travelled. They would generally set the speed limit to be the speed of the 85th percentile of drivers. But data, and engineering are being pushed aside to pursue traffic policy based on feelings. That's right, feelings.
When municipalities adopt the federal "Vision Zero" program they get federal grants to put in automated revenue generating enforcement, essentially using their own tax money to drain more money from drivers.
Other initiatives against cars and drivers include traffic lane removal (road dies), parking space removal, ending right-on-red, and city-wide 25mph speed limits.
The transportation officials behind these policies imagine themselves to be advocates for the "oppressed". But, these anti-car initiatives hurt poor people the most because one of the first rungs on the ladder of economic opportunity is having a car to drive to and from work. Mr. Beeber cited a UCLA study that showed that if you want to get people out of poverty, you should get them a car and help them afford it.
Action in Massachusetts
In Massachusetts there are several bills before the legislature that seek to impose more costs on drivers:
H3393 By Representatives Owens of Watertown and Cruz of Salem to allow automated traffic enforcement in the cities and towns of Massachusetts.
There is a company that makes enforcement cameras for school busses to catch violations of the school bus stop signal. They want municipalities to give them millions of dollars to address a non-existent crisis of school children being injured by drivers who don't stop. (The current chance that a student will be killed by a driver illegally passing the bus when the lights are flashing is 1 in 22.7 billion per year, according to national highway safety statistics.)
H3306 by Representative Donato of Medford seeks to fund schoolbus cameras to prevent these 1 in 22.7 billion deaths, and generate revenue for the municipalities (and corporate partners).
The NMA will pay up to $500 for members who fight a ticket and lose. They want their members to fight the use of tickets for revenue generation rather than safety. To read more about the NMA visit their web site.
"We just need to get the word out to people. We can help organize. We can help get people the tools that they need to fight back against this stuff." - Jay Beeber, NMA
You can view his entire talk here.