On Tuesday, we rolled out a viewpoint in support pending legislation that would make drivers think twice about ambling along in the passing lane of two-lane highways. It seems lawmakers’ own experiences with these drivers drove them to want to do something about it. If it passes, those drivers will have to hit the shoulder of the road when they get pulled over and will be looking at paying fines of between $100 and $200. That should help drive home the point and make these drivers pay more attention to what’s in the rearview mirror.
That said, there’s another bit of legislation that also deals with roads and also seems to have gotten mileage based on lawmakers’ personal experiences.
In this case, some lawmakers want the contractors who mow our roadsides to have to clean up the trash before they mow. It seems Rep. Richie Yow, R-Chesterfield, was tooling down the road when a piece of metal was flung into his window by a mower he was traveling alongside.
While we certainly agree that such an experience would not only be harrowing, but also potentially dangerous, life-threatening even, it seems to be a bit of a knee-jerk reaction on the part of one lawmaker. But it’s not just debris that is prompting the legislation, apparently. Another lawmaker noted that clumps of grass strewn in the roadway during mowing is a tremendous hazard. And he’s correct. Clumps of grass can send motorcyclists into terrible wrecks.
There are a couple of things worth noting here.
One is the tremendous expense that will be incurred if these contractors have to first do litter patrol. They won’t do it voluntarily and some Department of Transportation officials estimate costs will double what the state pays the contractors now, which is roughly $20 million.
South Carolina, in case you haven’t noticed, could be a much more beautiful state if it were not for the jackasses who litter. And we’re talking about more than the occasional bag of trash that falls off a truck, the couch pillow that blows off a trailer, and fast-food wrappers and bags. If we’re not first doing something more punitive about litterers the amount of debris on roads will not lessen. What about auto parts following a wreck? Well, how about it be incumbent upon the towing crew to ensure all debris is cleaned up. Law enforcement is already on scene and can help oversee that.
But if we want and need our state’s roads to be cleared of so much litter, aside from the many volunteers who actually care and risk their lives cleaning up, do we not have a capable force that can be deployed? Yes, we’re referencing inmates and those the courts order to perform community service as punishment.
As to the grass clippings in the roadways, that’s when we can and should look at fining the contractors doing the job. They should be cutting the roadsides in such a way as to ensure the grass is aimed away from the road. And maybe they should even have a crew that comes along behind them to blow the grass to the ditch area.
There’s no denying the problems are real, but new legislation isn’t always the right answer.