Friday, January 6, 2012

Do a Good Deed - get a ticket

"The one thing that unites all human beings, regardless of age, gender, religion, economic status or ethnic background, is that, deep down inside, we ALL believe that we are above average drivers."
- Dave Barry

Today I was asked to help our local Boy Scout troop with their merit badge for emergency preparedness. One requirement on the list was about training and safety for traffic and crowd control. This made me shake my head.

As WEVR (Westchester Emergency Volunteer Responders) my wife & I had a training class on traffic control. The policeman who taught the class urged us NEVER to direct traffic. We were not authorized and if asked to direct traffic, would not be immune from lawsuits for any traffic accident we caused!

Police are serious about their authority when it comes to directing traffic. Last September a major traffic light went out in Pasadena, CA at Fair Oaks and Huntington avenues. Traffic was backed up for more than a mile and it took more than 30 minutes to get through the busy intersection. At this point Alan Ehrlich acted like a good Boy Scout, put on a bright orange shirt he had in the car, grabbed a couple of orange safety flags, and began directing traffic. [I wonder what his day job is?]

Ehrlich cleared up the mess in 10 minutes. Five minutes later the South Pasadena police showed up and gave Ehrlich a ticket ($193) for "pedestrian on roadway" and ordered him to stop. Did the police take over at that point? No. The police told him that they are not required under California law to regulate the traffic and they left the scene trusting instead upon temporary stop signs to control traffic.

Police and the city of South Pasadena say they currently have no plans to change their procedures. Ehrlich disagrees, “We have limited resources . . . we need to prioritize them. One of the major intersections out at rush hour in our city should be a priority.”

Bottom Line

Are stop signs enough at a major intersection when the lights go out? I'd say not, but California has other ideas.

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