Thursday, December 17, 2015


The combination of a mass killing in California and Donald Trump’s ranting about the impending invasion of ISIS operatives disguised as Syrian refugees has obviously ramped up Americans' concern for safety.  Gun sales are at an all-time high, and much of that is attributed to the fact that people are fearful for their own safety.  Even though experts have told us the likelihood of being victimized by an ISIS plot here in the United States is less than being struck by lightning, we, and some of our so-called leaders, tend to fear ISIS and overlook some real threats to our lives and our safety.

A recent article in the Houston Chronicle by Ms. Hersman pointed out one of Texas’ shameful firsts.  Apparently, we lead the nation in traffic deaths.  It is reported by the Texas Department of Transportation that at least one fatality occurs every day and has been that way for over 5,000 days.

Simple solutions have been offered and rejected by the collective wisdom of our state legislature; the most recent of which was a proposal offered by my longtime acquaintance, friend and former speaker of the house, Tom Craddick of Midland.  Repeatedly, Craddick has offered to make it a crime to text on your cell phone while driving 75 miles an hour down a Texas roadway.  What appears to me to be a reasonable proposal was roundly rejected by the Texas House of Representatives as an impingement on personal freedom.  After this rejection, Texas remains one of only four states in the union without a statewide texting ban for all of its drivers.  While it may be a win for personal freedom, it is probably also a win for our state’s funeral homes.

While I sheepishly admit to occasionally driving slightly over the speed limit, my mis adherence to our traffic laws pales by comparison to what I see, particularly, on our major thoroughfares.  While I’m driving one or two clicks above the 75 mile an hour limit, I am more often than not passed as though I’m sitting still by drivers swooping in and out, changing lanes and tailgating other drivers on our interstate highways.  Texas’ safety advocates several years ago used to remark that “speed kills.”  I strongly suspect that it still does.  

Another phenomenon I have noticed of late on Texas highways is the marked absence of highway patrolmen. It seems a rational way to slow down traffic would be to have our highways and byways adequately patrolled.  Unfortunately, our statewide leadership—including our governor, attorney general and lieutenant governor—have opted to divert over $800-million ofour tax dollars toward sending troopers to guard the Mexican border, demonstrating their conservative defense of our borders against illegal aliens. They have also sent about 100 new troopers who could be better used to fight crime in our neighborhoods and control speeders and tailgaters on our busy freeways.

I suspect without fear of rebuke that more lives will be saved by policing our roadways than protecting us against the influx of women and children from South American countries.

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