Civilian-enforced traffic laws

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clarkbhm
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Re: Civilian-enforced traffic laws

Postby clarkbhm » Sat Oct 04, 2014 4:14 am UTC

The one arena I really wish I could use this is when I'm a pedestrian walking my daughter home from school. I'm very careful about making sure that we are walking safely, observing crossing signals, crossing only at crosswalks, etc. But invariably, there is some idiot that blows through the crosswalk, failing to yield the right of way, threatening our lives. It happens about twice a year, which is twice too many.

Should I just call the police and report him? Seems silly, and it's unlikely that they would do anything. But if my call actually had legitimate power as a "civilian-enforced traffic law," you can bet I'd be on the phone in a heartbeat.

It's one thing to roll through a stop sign when no one else is there. It's another thing to potential endanger someone's life.

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Re: Civilian-enforced traffic laws

Postby Nem » Sat Oct 04, 2014 8:57 pm UTC

cphite wrote:
Nem wrote:
cphite wrote:I suppose if you had a video clip showing clear, conclusive evidence it might work - for example, someone running a red light - but we already have traffic cams for that. Speeding would be very difficult to do... I suppose you could follow the person and demonstrate that you're pacing them at speed - but then you're also speeding.


If you can see them going between two fixed points, and know how long it took, then you've got their speed ^_^


So you're going to sit and do the calculations in your car as people drive by? And you're willing to show up in court to show conclusively that your calculations were correct - where you were sitting, how you determined the distance, as well as prove that you haven't sped up the video, etc?


Uh, what? You've got it on video. You don't need to do the calculations then and there. You have the time to physically measure the distance between two points if you want to.

If you have to do maths and turn up in court, it would serve to significantly reduce the numbers of nuisance complaints about someone maybe doing a couple of miles over.

Tampering with the video - sure that's a problem. Not what I was talking about mind, but a problem. There are ways around that with current tech but if you assume a sufficiently bothersome attacker you're basically looking at trying to get a trusted platform module someone would need a clean room to get around.

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Re: Civilian-enforced traffic laws

Postby KrytenKoro » Mon Oct 20, 2014 11:10 pm UTC

Qaanol wrote:So, even though I know you probably didn’t mean it like this, I just can’t help but read this as “The thing I like about traffic laws is that they are almost never enforced.”

I would mean it like this. There's ample evidence that many traffic laws are meant to bring money to the county, rather than increasing or even being neutral to driver safety, and being constantly paranoid is absolutely going to hinder people's driving. People drive safest when they're driving comfortable, not when they're on edge.

Like I said, one of the outcomes I’d hope / expect to see is a vast overhaul of traffic laws where all the nitpicky things that don’t actually affect safety simply stop being illegal. For example, rolling through stop signs: as long as you wait your turn and don’t cause an actual problem, it should totally be legal (but zipping through at full speed without slowing is still totally unsafe and ought to remain against the rules).

Source for it being unsafe?

What I’d really like to see is a “reputation” system where people can “vote” drivers up or down, and maybe a heads-up display lets you see the ratings (perhaps by color-coding) of the drivers around you. No idea how to actually implement this though.

Sounds like you're asking for a system where all minorities are instantly given "bad driver" ratings.
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hppavilion1
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Re: Civilian-enforced traffic laws

Postby hppavilion1 » Tue Nov 04, 2014 5:49 am UTC

Qaanol wrote:owners can get people who borrow their cars to sign a contract to pay any fines incurred.

Do you expect people to get out a contract every time they let a friend drive the car?
No.
No you don't.

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Re: Civilian-enforced traffic laws

Postby billy joule » Tue Nov 04, 2014 9:23 am UTC

KrytenKoro wrote:
Qaanol wrote:
Like I said, one of the outcomes I’d hope / expect to see is a vast overhaul of traffic laws where all the nitpicky things that don’t actually affect safety simply stop being illegal. For example, rolling through stop signs: as long as you wait your turn and don’t cause an actual problem, it should totally be legal (but zipping through at full speed without slowing is still totally unsafe and ought to remain against the rules).

Source for it being unsafe?


...You need a source to tell you blowing through stop signs without slowing is unsafe?
What's your stance on the safety of Russian roulette?

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Re: Civilian-enforced traffic laws

Postby KrytenKoro » Tue Nov 04, 2014 3:09 pm UTC

billy joule wrote:
KrytenKoro wrote:
Qaanol wrote:
Like I said, one of the outcomes I’d hope / expect to see is a vast overhaul of traffic laws where all the nitpicky things that don’t actually affect safety simply stop being illegal. For example, rolling through stop signs: as long as you wait your turn and don’t cause an actual problem, it should totally be legal (but zipping through at full speed without slowing is still totally unsafe and ought to remain against the rules).

Source for it being unsafe?


...You need a source to tell you blowing through stop signs without slowing is unsafe?
What's your stance on the safety of Russian roulette?

...yes, I do.

Just like I'd like a source for all the other "safety measures" that are implemented, which can often end up being more "bring in money to the county through fines even if it results in more injuries". I'm sure a great majority of them are valid for safety, but especially when we're talking about a system that is already pretty fucked for obstructive and endangering red tape, I'd kinda like the precedent to be "proof first".

Frankly? It's kinda assinine to just start implementing measures that "seem" safer without actually studying whether they improve a damn thing.
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Azrael
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Re: Civilian-enforced traffic laws

Postby Azrael » Tue Nov 04, 2014 3:24 pm UTC

If you need a study to scientifically demonstrate to you that having two flows of automobile traffic crossing paths without a designation as to which of which flow(s) are required to yield the right of way, then this is not the discussion for you. You can find that argument over at that other forum dedicated to angrily arguing the perfectly obvious. I hear the "Is shooting yourself in the head dangerous?" thread is quite popular. Stop signs don't exist to generate revenue. Neither do stop lights. You're projecting.

What isn't perfectly obvious is *when* to use stop signs or other traffic regulating methods. For all practical purposes, you cannot have a universal study that "proves" anything but a very general case -- the number of independent variables is far too high for application to each intersection. Thus, you see that traffic management is based on a codified set guidelines and the requirement to conduct traffic studies for each individual instance that deviates in any substantial way. In the US, there exists such a codification in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). You can go read it. But here the thing -- it's a peer reviewed, industry supported and referenced document.

So yeah, there's your citation, now go do a traffic study.

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Re: Civilian-enforced traffic laws

Postby cphite » Tue Nov 04, 2014 7:27 pm UTC

Nem wrote:
cphite wrote:
Nem wrote:
cphite wrote:I suppose if you had a video clip showing clear, conclusive evidence it might work - for example, someone running a red light - but we already have traffic cams for that. Speeding would be very difficult to do... I suppose you could follow the person and demonstrate that you're pacing them at speed - but then you're also speeding.


If you can see them going between two fixed points, and know how long it took, then you've got their speed ^_^


So you're going to sit and do the calculations in your car as people drive by? And you're willing to show up in court to show conclusively that your calculations were correct - where you were sitting, how you determined the distance, as well as prove that you haven't sped up the video, etc?


Uh, what? You've got it on video. You don't need to do the calculations then and there. You have the time to physically measure the distance between two points if you want to.


If you get pulled over by a police officer because of a reading on a radar gun, and you decide to fight the fine, it falls on the officer to prove that the calibration of the radar gun was correct. You can ask them to provide logs of when it was calibrated, how often, etc. Likewise, if you're stopped due to being timed - for example, by how long it takes to get between two lines painted on the road, or other similar markers - the state has to provide clear evidence that those lines are the proper distance apart, that whatever means they used to time you was accurate, etc.

You, as an ordinary citizen, would have to meet at least the same standards. You would have to prove that the landmarks you used were the correct distance apart. You would have to prove that the angle of view gave an accurate measure of when the person actually passed each marker, etc.

If you have to do maths and turn up in court, it would serve to significantly reduce the numbers of nuisance complaints about someone maybe doing a couple of miles over.


Right... and it would significantly increase the number of cases going to traffic court; the vast majority of which would be thrown out for lack of proper evidence.

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Re: Civilian-enforced traffic laws

Postby cphite » Tue Nov 04, 2014 7:45 pm UTC

Azrael wrote:If you need a study to scientifically demonstrate to you that having two flows of automobile traffic crossing paths without a designation as to which of which flow(s) are required to yield the right of way, then this is not the discussion for you. You can find that argument over at that other forum dedicated to angrily arguing the perfectly obvious. I hear the "Is shooting yourself in the head dangerous?" thread is quite popular.


If you read more carefully, he's specifically talking about the act of rolling through a stop sign. In other words, you slow down to almost a complete stop, but after verifying that there is no crossing traffic, continue on your way. Lot of people do it; even cops do it. And for the most part, it's ignored unless people flagrantly ignore the stop entirely.

Would having an army of citizens turning people in for this action actually make anyone safer?

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Re: Civilian-enforced traffic laws

Postby Azrael » Tue Nov 04, 2014 8:16 pm UTC

Is this where we play "No, you need to read it more carefully"? Because he asked for a citation that zipping through a stop sign at full speed was dangerous:

KrytenKoro wrote:
billy joule wrote:
KrytenKoro wrote:
Qaanol wrote:(but zipping through at full speed without slowing is still totally unsafe and ought to remain against the rules).
Source for it being unsafe?
...You need a source to tell you blowing through stop signs without slowing is unsafe?
...yes, I do.


And when you do something that pedantic, you should expect to be called out for it.

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Re: Civilian-enforced traffic laws

Postby KrytenKoro » Tue Nov 04, 2014 10:30 pm UTC

Azrael wrote:If you need a study to scientifically demonstrate to you that having two flows of automobile traffic crossing paths without a designation as to which of which flow(s) are required to yield the right of way, then this is not the discussion for you.

Bit confused here: I asked for a source for it being unsafe to "zip through a stop sign at full speed", not "ignore the flow of traffic in the other lane".

Several times, I've seen cases, like certain speed limits or shortened yellow lights, that there are at least a few facets of traffic law that are being over-legislated -- that in these cases there are fewer injuries, and travel is overall safer, if it's left to the driver's discretion.

I wasn't, at all, saying that drivers should drive at full speed every single time, or that there shouldn't be some tradition for who goes first -- I just want to see evidence that there is greater overall safety in laws that, for example, would penalize someone who continues driving at full speed when they can tell there is no one in the crossing road for miles around, as well as penalizing those who are actually driving dangerously. Are more lives saved by enforcing the "always stop" method as a tradition, or as a law?

In the US, there exists such a codification in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). You can go read it. But here the thing -- it's a peer reviewed, industry supported and referenced document.

This is a large document and my computer is kind of shit, so I'm having trouble getting more than a paragraph to load at a time. I think you may have misunderstood my question, which was that whether there was whether it actually improved safety to make it illegal to not slow at a stop sign, not whether stop signs were helpful in determining right of way, and not even whether zipping through stop signs should be discouraged. If you didn't misunderstand me, then please give me a page number or something to help me out here.

And when you do something that pedantic, you should expect to be called out for it.

I'm kinda confused here, because your first post was about calling me out for asking a source that "zipping through stop signs is unsafe and should be illegal", but speaking as if I had said that I needed a study to demonstrate "that having two flows of automobile traffic crossing paths without a designation as to which of which flow(s) are required to yield the right of way [is unsafe]".

I have absolutely no problem with the existence of stop signs. However, this is a thread about increasing the arresting/fining power of a cop for any traffic offense to all citizens -- I think it's a pretty damn relevant concern to point out that a lot of our traffic laws are designed to penalize stuff that is not, in fact, dangerous every single time, and punishment is left up to the cop's discretion over whether it was actually dangerous, when the OP's suggestion is to make it so that it can be punished every single time.

Sooooo...yes, in this hypothetical scenario we're debating in which traffic infringements are punished every single time, I'd like to see sources first that punishing something even like zipping through a stop sign is dangerous every single time.

(In Qaanol's more specific scenario of going through and throwing out all the "nitpicky things that don't actually affect safety", yes, I kind of don't see why, without the study, rolling stops should be considered but whether 'zipping through' is tolerable should be totally ignored.)
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Re: Civilian-enforced traffic laws

Postby ucim » Tue Nov 04, 2014 11:38 pm UTC

KrytenKoro wrote:Bit confused here: I asked for a source for it being unsafe to "zip through a stop sign at full speed", not "ignore the flow of traffic in the other lane".
Bit hard to do one without doing the other. Granted, one can conceive of a situation in which this wouldn't be difficult, but I suspect that either those cases are not all that common, or that where they exist, it's uncommon (or unexpected) that drivers would with high reliability to look first where looking would be needed.

Rolling stop - that's another thing.

Civilian enforcement - that's yet a third thing. Yes, they're all related. It becomes ultimately a question of what the judge would rule, and whether it makes sense to bring these (presumably extra) cases to him (or her).

Traffic laws are basically an inconvenient convenience. They are dumbed down to make enforcement (and driver training) easier. Laws that say "well, sometimes it's ok to do {this}" without specifying the "sometimes" are an invitation to (sometimes lethal) abuse.
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Not traffic related, but I've been trying for years to track down the research leading to the (apparently legally required) statement for hot tubs that at 104 degrees (F) one should limit exposure to 15 minutes but at lower temperatures, one can stay in longer. How much lower? How much longer? I trust this was studied, but I cannot find the original research.
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Re: Civilian-enforced traffic laws

Postby KrytenKoro » Wed Nov 05, 2014 12:24 am UTC

ucim wrote:
KrytenKoro wrote:Bit confused here: I asked for a source for it being unsafe to "zip through a stop sign at full speed", not "ignore the flow of traffic in the other lane".
Bit hard to do one without doing the other. Granted, one can conceive of a situation in which this wouldn't be difficult, but I suspect that either those cases are not all that common, or that where they exist, it's uncommon (or unexpected) that drivers would with high reliability to look first where looking would be needed.

Rolling stop - that's another thing.

Civilian enforcement - that's yet a third thing. Yes, they're all related. It becomes ultimately a question of what the judge would rule, and whether it makes sense to bring these (presumably extra) cases to him (or her).

Right. And yeah, it's likely better to have laws forbidding blowing through a stop sign, even with the omnipresent, contextless enforcement being suggested by the OP. I mean, the police can presumably decline to prosecute. Just, in the hypothetical of beefing up enforcement even more, it behooves to examine what's actually worth enforcing, even if it sounds obvious.
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Re: Civilian-enforced traffic laws

Postby Azrael » Thu Nov 06, 2014 2:05 pm UTC

KrytenKoro wrote:Sooooo...yes, in this hypothetical scenario we're debating in which traffic infringements are punished every single time, I'd like to see sources first that punishing something even like zipping through a stop sign is dangerous every single time.

First off, traffic infringements in this hypothetical aren't punished every single time. Civilian enforcement, in all it's terribleness, would increase the chance of being caught, but certainly not to 100%. People don't see everything, people aren't everywhere, people don't care enough to act every time.

Second, no law can withstand the level of scrutiny you propose. Shooting a gun in a crowd isn't dangerous every time. Threatening to murder someone isn't a danger every time. Taking a bribe isn't. To be blithe about it, that's not how laws work. Expecting that traffic laws should be justified that way -- even under this hypothetical -- is massively moving the goal posts.

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Re: Civilian-enforced traffic laws

Postby KrytenKoro » Thu Nov 06, 2014 2:43 pm UTC

Azrael wrote:
KrytenKoro wrote:Sooooo...yes, in this hypothetical scenario we're debating in which traffic infringements are punished every single time, I'd like to see sources first that punishing something even like zipping through a stop sign is dangerous every single time.

First off, traffic infringements in this hypothetical aren't punished every single time. Civilian enforcement, in all it's terribleness, would increase the chance of being caught, but certainly not to 100%. People don't see everything, people aren't everywhere, people don't care enough to act every time.

That's fair, but it would still be much, much closer to "every time", and given that we're talking citizens here, people who experience road rage, it would likely be "times when nothing wrong was actually done".

Second, no law can withstand the level of scrutiny you propose. Shooting a gun in a crowd isn't dangerous every time. Threatening to murder someone isn't a danger every time. Taking a bribe isn't. To be blithe about it, that's not how laws work. Expecting that traffic laws should be justified that way -- even under this hypothetical -- is massively moving the goal posts.

It looks like I'm not being quite clear.

I'm not saying we would need proof that zipping through, alone, is dangerous every single time, I'm saying we would need proof that treating it as a traffic violation (near-)every single time, would be safer than whatever effect that...paranoia, I guess, would have on the drivers. (Very likely) Ideally, people wouldn't zip through at all, but would they drive safer if they are driving at their own discretion, or driving to avoid being caught? There's weird, non-intuitive effects there.
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Re: Civilian-enforced traffic laws

Postby morriswalters » Fri Nov 07, 2014 1:20 pm UTC

KrytenKoro wrote:but would they drive safer if they are driving at their own discretion, or driving to avoid being caught?
Stop signs didn't arise out of a vacuum. Drivers can't or won't self regulate.

Driving is not purely a matter of you or any individual. Rather a matter of information about numerous others. I need to know the expected behavior at any given point. The broader the range of possible behaviors at any given point the less certain my information about that point is and as a result the more dangerous navigating it becomes. Stop signs for instance, define an expected behavior and remove uncertainty. There are already signs that allow for a less controlled interactions, they are called yield signs, which in effect are rolling stops. My poorly informed opinion is that the system is performing as intended. I have managed to break traffic laws many times without ever being cited unfairly or otherwise, except once for speeding.

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Re: Civilian-enforced traffic laws

Postby KrytenKoro » Fri Nov 07, 2014 2:04 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:Stop signs didn't arise out of a vacuum. Drivers can't or won't self regulate.

And speed limits used to be 20, with society thinking that was nearly higher than humans could handle.

My poorly informed opinion is that the system is performing as intended. I have managed to break traffic laws many times without ever being cited unfairly or otherwise, except once for speeding.

Just one last time: I am not proposing that no, as the system is used now, we need to storm the city halls and demand the law be taken down.

I'm saying, if we hypothetically went forward with allowing citizen stops and arrests for all current traffic violations, even stuff like this would need to be reevaluated because the context for whether there is benefit is completely different.
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Re: Civilian-enforced traffic laws

Postby morriswalters » Fri Nov 07, 2014 4:21 pm UTC

KrytenKoro wrote:And speed limits used to be 20, with society thinking that was nearly higher than humans could handle.
It was more than early cars could handle. And far fewer people driving. The law has evolved. However that is irrelevant I suppose, at least to the point.

As far as citizen run traffic systems I consider that a case of the inmates running the asylum. I think I would quit driving. I just reread the OP and I'm not sure I understand what he is trying to accomplish.
Qaanol wrote:since everyone can enforce the law, violations will almost never go unnoticed. There are few disincentives as strong as “you can’t possibly get away with it”. And with any luck, guaranteed-enforcement should provide strong impetus to get rid of the stupid traffic laws and implement good ones.
I've seen very few poor regulations or laws pertaining to driver behavior. I have seen uneven enforcement. For instance the idea that rolling stops are safe. Why are they and where is the data that shows it? As I have already pointed out self driving cars would solve the problem, since by definition you get 100 percent compliance, assuming they work as intended. Which seems to be the OP's intended purpose. For that matter black boxes in cars and judicious transmitters in traffic signs and devices could track violations without human intervention at all. Your car could drop a dime on you with absolute fidelity, assuming good security, no civilian police needed. I suppose the point eludes me, I'm told it does at times.

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Re: Civilian-enforced traffic laws

Postby Azrael » Mon Nov 10, 2014 1:36 pm UTC

KrytenKoro wrote:... even stuff like this would need to be reevaluated because the context for whether there is benefit is completely different.

Actually, no. The safety benefit is not completely different. You won't have changed *anything* about the way traffic interactions take place.

You're just worried about having to pay more fines. Which, at most, means the fines might be altered to some new threshold at which they still sufficiently deter at a lower value with a higher frequency.

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Re: Civilian-enforced traffic laws

Postby KrytenKoro » Mon Nov 10, 2014 2:14 pm UTC

Azrael wrote:You're just worried about having to pay more fines. Which, at most, means the fines might be altered to some new threshold at which they still sufficiently deter at a lower value with a higher frequency.

That's not what I'm trying to get at, but fine. It's clear we're gonna disagree.
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Re: Civilian-enforced traffic laws

Postby Azrael » Mon Nov 10, 2014 3:24 pm UTC

KrytenKoro wrote:That's not what I'm trying to get at, but fine. It's clear we're gonna disagree.

The arguments you have voiced so far on particular aspect have been regarding the, for lack of a better explanation, frequency of consequence -- if the frequency of enforcement moves higher, the consequence has to be re-evaluated. Perhaps even removed.

However, the product (frequency * consequence) has no bearing on what makes for safe traffic flow. The benefit of stop signs and other traffic controls are well established. Your proposal to consider removing the enforcement aspect because it could become burdensome on the violator is missing the fact that reducing the burden will lead to a reduction in compliance which will become less safe.

A workable trade needs to be in three dimensions:
X-axis: Fee (low to high)
Y-axis: Frequency of enforcement (low to high)
Z-axis: Safety (Some weighted average of [driver safety * # interactions] and [enforcer safety * # stops])
With the origin at some measure of status quo (which would be difficult to ascertain in a general case).

This way your 2D concern about frequency vs consequence could be traded by extending into the third axis to understand the effect on total safety. No one wants to be in the 2D top right -- high frequency and high consequence -- unless it corresponds to a high safety risk.

Otherwise, you continue to have the tail wag the dog. Traffic laws were created to increase safety (and no one here is arguing that blatant monetizing is just) and reducing fees because the degree of enforcement has shifted is entirely self-serving, rather than safety-serving. It's just rationally backwards without the (demonstrably incorrect) assumption that the entire purpose of traffic laws is fundraising.


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