A roundup of car-, traffic- and highway-related information that wouldn’t necessarily make it on the blog, but is worth noting:
• Lone Star Towing refuses to go away. Everyone’s favorite renegade, despite bad publicity, the mayor’s anger, and a host of city bureaucrats, keeps towing along. I’ll repeat what I wrote before: Government regulation is only as effective as the government doing the regulating. And our city government is not designed and isn’t run to do much regulating.
• Those of us who have our doubts about the city’s red light cameras are another step closer to shutting the system down. A Dallas judge has ruled twice that the city’s contract with its red light camera vendor doesn’t pass legal muster. There will be another hearing in February, but the lawyer who brought the case (after he got a ticket, of course) has made it farther than almost anyone expected. Full disclosure: I got a red light ticket this fall for making a right on red at Greenville and Mockingbird (long after I voiced my objections to the system, I might add). Apparently, I didn’t come to a full stop. If the suit wins, do I get my money back?
• Just in time for Christmas, a road rage story. Apparently, Dallas-area drivers are not nearly as pleasant as we used to be, according to a national survey. Great quote in the story from a psychologist: “"We feel so vulnerable, as indeed we are. It’s like, we can’t control the mortgage companies. We can’t control the stock market. We can’t control the job we just lost." So, she said, we try to control other drivers instead.
• The legislature returns for another side-splitting run in January, and the main act looks like it might be a knock-down, drag-out fight between the Lege and Gov. Minority over a variety of transportation issues: Building private toll roads (as opposed to public ones), paying for new highway construction, and raising the gas tax. Some legislators are so angry that they want to abolish the state transportation commission. Hanging over this, of course, is the amazing news that Americans are driving less, a trend that the study says may be permanent. This brings into question whether we’ll need more roads and how to pay for the ones we do build. That’s because highway construction is financed mainly through gas taxes and tolls, and if we are driving less, those will produce less revenue.