While surfing my normal news sites this morning I encountered three separate stories regarding motorists that are driving me absolutely bonkers, and I felt compelled to write. Each story is outrageous enough on its own, but combined they show a pattern that constitutes a war on one of our last bastions of freedom, the automobile. First, North Texas Drivers Stopped at Roadblock Asked for Saliva, Blood . Apparently Fort Worth is participating in a 30 city study where drivers are directed by badged goons off the road into a parking lot, and then asked to provide fed contractors samples of their breath, saliva, and even blood, as a part of a government research study aimed at determining the number of drunken or drug-impaired drivers on the road. The program is billed as “totally voluntary”, yet drivers were FORCED off the road, and offered varying amounts of cash to provide samples. To my limited IQ way of thinking, “totally voluntary” would have been a road sign stating that there was a voluntary alcohol and drug test up ahead, please turn right to volunteer. Am I right? Fort Worth resident Kim Cope said “she felt trapped”, and no doubt bullied and eventually she “finally took the Breathalyzer because I thought it would be the easiest way to leave.” As stated by the program official, driver cooperation was absolutely “totally voluntary”, but the consent form includes fine print stating that drivers’ breath was being tested by “passive alcohol sensor readings before the consent process has been completed.” That’s right, before you even sign the consent form, they were already sniffing the air around you, so you were being tested whether you approved or not. I’m not sure what’s worse, the bogus, bullied consent or the fact that someone dreamed up a voluntary study where the very people they’re hoping to catch are going to decline to volunteer. I’d love to see the fudge factor included in this survey, it has to read something like “accurate to +/- 50 percentage points”. Regardless of all these flaws and violations of liberty – there’s another $7.9 million of your money down the drain, along with your freedom.
Second story – NHTSA May Mandate That New Cars Broadcast Location, Direction, and Speed. (CNSNews.com) – “Before the end of this year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will decide whether or not to begin the rulemaking process to mandate that newly manufactured cars include what is being called “vehicle-to-vehicle” (V2V) communications technology that constantly broadcasts via radio wave the car’s location, direction, speed and, possibly, even the number of passengers it is carrying.” Who among us doesn’t believe that this system won’t eventually be used for even more intrusive violations of drivers’ few remaining freedoms, coupled with the first article I can see passive Breathalyzers in these cars sniffing out your fast food and redirecting you to Whole Foods against your will, or refusing to move forward again until you toss that unhealthy Happy Meal. The Obama administration says this is something it has “no plans” to do even if it does mandate V2V technology in all new cars. However, they’ve also stated that if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor …. We all know how that turned out. The American automobile used to be viewed as a sanctuary of privacy, a respite of solace, a safe refuge from the rest of the world, from your job, from your nagging wife and/or kids, a place where you could escape and be free for a little while. Kiss it goodbye, soon you will be tracked just as heavily as a GPS/tracking chip implemented sex-offender. They’ll know your whereabouts, your weight, how much gas you have in your tank, what your emissions are in real time, what’s on your radio (LRC podcasts, no doubt), and be able to change the channel if it’s not on the government approved listening list. You ask where it ends? It doesn’t.
Finally, Pilot Program Speed Sensors Trigger Red Light on Philly Road. Kelly Drive, somewhere in Philadelphia, is now the site of a pilot program designed to slow you, dear driver down. If you don’t, you’ll be stopped at the light as your excess speed will trigger the light to change to red. The average speed of motorists on Kelly Drive is near 55mph, despite a 35mph posted speed limit. Obviously, drivers have decided that the speed limit is hogwash and refuse to obey much like they’ve done with today’s marijuana laws. If sensors in the road detect you are speeding, the next red light down the road is triggered to stop you, which apparently the memory of the inconvenience alone will keep your speed closer to the posted on your next trip down Kelly Drive. I don’t quite get this one, as we tend to expect red lights every now and then. Heck, I can think of some lights on my commute that I’d swear are always red every day when I encounter them. Here’s another issue. Suppose a driver is actually observing the speed limit on Kelly Drive, (from Google Earth it appears to be two lanes in each direction), and another driver is exceeding the same, does the slower driver get punished at a red light for his infraction? How about the drivers on the cross street? That light is going to be constantly red. This is absolutely absurd. Perhaps the most amazing observation I can make here is that Phila. is missing on out on revenue from a speed camera, but surely they’ve just overlooked that for now. No, no, no, this just won’t work, but it won’t have to, as from the previous article, cars will soon be equipped with sensors and actuators of their own, it won’t be long before your car will prevent you from moving faster than the posted speed limit. The technology is here, we’re just a few more nannies away from implementation. Might as well take the bus…oh right that’s their sneaky little plan.
Mike Schwing is a native and resident of Baltimore, Md., and has spent his career working to bring the Beast down from inside as a federal IT project manager. In his considerable spare time Mike builds custom motorcycles, is a woodworking artist, and spends far too many hours on his bicycle. Any time Mike has left over is of course spent on LRC and blowing up his Liberal friends’ Facebook pages.
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