Jan 152015
 

It is estimated that the average time a driver’s eyes are off the road while texting is nearly 5 seconds, or about the length of a football field when traveling 55 mph. Texting while driving is one of the leading causes of traffic accidents. In 2009, nearly half a million Americans were injured, and 5,000 people killed, in car accidents that involved distracted drivers. A texting driver is 23 times more likely to get into an accident than one who is not. Still, statistics show that many young drivers continue to text. Surveys have found that half of our drivers younger than 35, and 86% of all teens have driven while distracted even though 84% of these teens knew it is dangerous. Many states now have laws in which texting while driving is a secondary offense, meaning a driver would have to also commit another infraction like speeding to justify getting pulled over. Safety advocates endorse primary-offense laws that would allow police to pull over anyone they saw texting while driving, as they can a motorist not wearing a seatbelt.

Pending Legislation:

H.R.1664 – Distracted Driving Prevention Act of 2013

I oppose reforming texting policy and wish to defeat H.R.1664

I support prohibiting a driver from using a cell phone to text or call while driving, except when using a hands-free device by a driver who is at least 18 years old; making violation of the law a primary offense; requiring distracted driving issues to be tested as part of the state’s driver’s license examination; establishing minimum fines and increased civil and criminal penalties, and wish to pass H.R.1664

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

Traffic citation cameras, now used in more than 600 American cities, are mounted at street intersections to photograph drivers who run red lights. These motorists are then mailed a citation once the photo has been reviewed. It is estimated that each of these cameras will generate more than 500 citations every year, creating hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue for city governments and camera manufacturers. Citations can cost drivers more than $300, of which camera manufacturers typically receive a large percentage. Proponents say it is an effective way to improve driving safety since many serious accidents result from speeding or occur at street intersections. Some claim these intersection accidents have decreased after red light cameras were installed, while others say that there are indications the opposite is true. Studies have shown these devices cause rear-end accidents at intersections in which they operate. A Los Angeles study showed a tripling of these types of accidents in 20 of the 32 intersections studied. Another study by a New Jersey town which recently banned these cameras claimed t-bone accidents increased 400% in camera-covered intersections. Red light camera systems are also being used to ticket cars that exceed the speed limit. One two-day operation in Virginia ticketed nearly 6,000 drivers, with 90% of these citations for speeding. Opponents believe local governments exploit these devices by enforcing arbitrary low speed limits, and citing drivers who run red lights at intersections with short yellow light intervals. They claim the real reasons for these cameras are to increase local revenue and reduce police personnel. Critics contend that in cases where a photo does not clearly identify a driver’s face, these cameras violate our constitutional protections because they shift the burden of proof from the government to the driver. They say police officers should not be replaced with a device that eliminates an officer’s presence, interpretation and discretion. Privacy advocates also warn these cameras are a threat to our civil liberties because they encroach on our right to privacy. In 2012 alone, states received nearly $800 million from the federal government to install these camera systems. While 24 states and Washington, D.C. allow them, nine states have banned them. Nationwide, the number of communities using red light cameras has decreased about 6% since 2012.

Pending Legislation: None

I oppose reforming current red light camera policy

I support identifying a legislator who will sponsor a bill to eliminate federal funding for red light camera systems

I support identifying a legislator who will sponsor a bill to prohibit the use of red light camera systems

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was created after 9/11 to secure air travel. However, it often seems that the policies of the TSA and the conduct of its employees make more news than the crimes it is charged to prevent. Scanners that are too revealing, alleged sexual assaults, racial profiling, and insensitivity while searching the elderly, young, and people with disabilities are only some of the reasons TSA officers are criticized by angry passengers. The TSA has also wrongly prevented or delayed many passengers from boarding flights. Officials say these isolated incidents are comparatively few and that sometimes there are errors on the no-fly list that bar passengers from boarding. TSA supporters say it is performing a monumental job well, considering the number of passengers it needs to inspect each day. Other critics claim the TSA has squandered the $900 million training and deployment of an estimated 3,000 “behavior detection” officers (BDO). BDO teams wander the airports watching as passengers are searched at checkpoints and are charged with making judgments as to the passenger’s reactions to the treatment they receive. Critics claim this program is discriminatory in nature, extremely ineffective, and often targets those who are perceived to be Arab Americans. The Government Accountability Office states the “available evidence does not support whether behavioral indicators can be used to identify persons who may pose a risk to aviation security.” Instead, it recommended that this funding be “directed to programs that have demonstrated their effectiveness.”

Regarding in-flight safety concerns, there was considerable debate in 2013 when the TSA announced it might change its rule prohibiting small knives in carry-on luggage. Although it was eventually decided for this ban to remain in place, some wish to permanently prohibit these items from being carried aboard passenger aircraft.

Pending Legislation:

H.R.1583 – Fair, Accurate, Secure, and Timely Redress Act of 2013

I oppose reforming current TSA policy and wish to defeat H.R.1583

I support implementing a redress process for individuals who believe they were wrongly delayed or prohibited from boarding a commercial aircraft or denied a right, benefit, or privilege because they were wrongly identified as a threat when screened against the terrorist watchlist, and wish to pass H.R.1583

 Posted by at 12:00 am