With so many links and stories coming across my desk, sometimes they make for interesting juxtapositions. Take the two stories I woke up to today: a state legislator in Georgia who wants to abolish driver’s licenses and a suspect in a fatal hit and run in Portland Wednesday who was found to be a “habitual” traffic violation offender.
First up is Georgia state legislator Bobby Franklin. Franklin thinks driver’s licenses impinge on people’s freedom so he’s proposed a bill to stop the state from issuing them. Here’s what Franklin told CBS News during an interview (taken from Talking Points Memo):
“Free people have a common law and constitutional right to travel on the roads and highways that are provided by their government for that purpose,” Franklin’s legislation states. “Licensing of drivers cannot be required of free people, because taking on the restrictions of a license requires the surrender of an inalienable right.””
While you’re thinking about that, consider the tragedy that occurred in Northeast Portland Wednesday night. Lori Noelle Kerr was trying to walk across Sandy Blvd at NE 91st when she was struck and killed by a man driving a minivan. The man fled the scene and was later apprehended by police and was booked on manslaughter charges.
This morning, KGW reported that the suspect was a “habitual offender”:
“A background check conducted by KGW confirmed that just in the last year alone, Arrell was cited for driving with a suspended license on Jan. 10, failure to carry proof of insurance on Jan. 18, and driving with a suspended license on Jan. 24. On Feb. 1, Arrell was cited for failure to obey a traffic device, driving uninsured and open container. He was later convicted on all counts.”
The fact that Mr. Arrell was still driving should be of grave concern to everyone who cares about road safety.
This session in Salem, we’ve reported on legislators who say they’re concerned about road safety. Their remedies have included banning the use of headphones by people riding bikes, requiring a safety standards label on bike trailers, and even banning children six and under from being carried or towed on a bike at all.
When you combine a culture that sees driving as a right and not a privilege, with politicians who seem reluctant to take on real traffic safety reform, you are left with a gap. That gap between how safe our roads are and how safe they should be is where we should focus all of our attention.