Las Vegas Sun

April 17, 2014

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Columnist Tom Gorman: On viewing road bullies as social misfits

Tom Gorman's column runs Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. He can be reached at [email protected] or at (702) 259-2310.

The worst thing about living here is the high proportion of moronic drivers.

It's not just me who thinks that. The North Las Vegas Police Chief, Mark Paresi, testified in Carson City last year that based on his 32 years of experience, which included driving in every big U.S. and Canadian city, nowhere are drivers more aggressive and disrespectful than they are in Clark County.

If anti-car missiles were legal, my Camry would be a heavily armed cruiser. I'd put a gun turret in my sun roof.

Kapow! Blam! Take that, sucka.

And there'd be one less motorist darting chaotically across traffic lanes, running red lights and driving down the center median or shoulder of the freeway as if it were his personal lane.

I vented the other day to some North Las Vegas cops, and they empathized because they see it all, and more.

I asked them: If you were in charge of the world, how would you make the streets safer?

First on the list: Put video cameras on traffic signals to photograph drivers who run red lights. Then nail them with stiff fines.

Paul Womack, a traffic division lieutenant in North Las Vegas, said he's seen as many as six cars run the same red light. Even if he could pull one over, the other five would get away. That wouldn't happen with camera enforcement. (Or they could put me at the intersection with my heavily armed Camry Cruiser.)

Traffic cops and police chiefs have asked our state legislature for permission to use red-light cameras. There is no reason to not allow them. Other states use them and the positive results are irrefutable. This is a no-brainer solution that costs nothing (because the ticket fines will pay for the cameras).

But our state lawmakers have said no, for a host of stupid reasons including that using cameras would be an invasion of privacy. Excuse me? That's like saying if a guy runs a red light and hits me, he's guilty of trespassing on my car.

Moronic motorists are being protected by moronic legislators.

Traffic cops would also like to have more traffic cops. Or, at least, they'd like to be able to use a greater number of unmarked police cars.

Imagine, for a moment, some moron whipping through traffic lanes, speeding and not using his traffic signal. He pulls in front of a Sentra or Saturn. And the lights flash and the siren screams from that Sentra or Saturn, and the moron swallows hard because he realizes the fellow driving that Sentra or Saturn is a traffic cop.

Take that, sucka.

The beauty of unmarked police cars is that the morons won't know which Sentras or Saturns are driven by cops, so every Sentra or Saturn on the road is a deterrent. We could mess with the morons and add a few unmarked Mazdas and Mustangs to the fleet, too, for good measure.

I also complained to my police buddies that people don't use their turn signals. The reason, they theorize, is because when a person signals his intention to change lanes, other motorists will speed up to prevent it, just to be a jerk.

Why do people drive so rudely? I asked Christopher Kearney, a psychology professor at UNLV. He told me these motoring morons are petty, selfish, socially unskilled people who have difficulty at home, work and at play.

They compensate for being social incompetents by becoming road bullies, which becomes the primary source of their self -esteem, Kearney said. They measure success by counting how many cars they've passed during the day, without regard to the danger they put the rest of us in.

Getting angry at them will only embolden them, Kearney said. "All you can do," he said, "is feel sorry for them."

But I still hope they'll get pulled over by a cop in a Sentra or Saturn.

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