The Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety is reported to have put Nevada in the lowest ranking of states for traffic safety laws. Local news outlets report the Silver State got a “red light” grade, however, the Advocates’ own Nevada page for 2019 shows “yellow light” status. Whatever.
Traffic safety and collisions are my other passion, besides guns, but cars are often used as an example on how firearms should be treated. Let’s start with the Advocates’ suggestions to make Nevada roads safer:
None of these things will reduce traffic collisions, which are the primary and only cause of traffic deaths. Yes, I’m being facetious, but it’s true.
Speeding doesn’t cause accidents as much as you might be led to believe; sure, if the road is wet and you close control that’s speed. Going to fast may cause you to be unable to negotiate a curve in dry weather, but in the report (because making speed the primary collision factor requires a lot of investigation and math) it’s easier to put “unsafe turning movement” for failing to make the curve without incident.
Doing 90 MPH on I-15 from Primm to Vegas does nothing more than give a state trooper a hard-on, especially if you have California plates. What speed does do is make it more likely that you or someone else will die when you crash (or makes crashes more inevitable because greater speed equals less reaction time).
With that tangent over, let’s look at some of the suggestions. These laws are predicated on enforcement: people don’t want to get tickets, so they will comply with the law or will engage in learned avoidance behavior after being cited. Many of these laws are easy to comply with and little burden on a journey, in contrast with doing, oh say doing the speed limit through boring stretches of Nevada.
Seat belt laws and booster and car seat laws add safety; fewer injuries and ejections lower the fatality rate. They do not eliminate car accidents. Restrictions on minors have the potential to reduce deaths, but only in a statistically insignificant way, by reducing crashes as the result of inexperience.
Raising the bar on who can drive and the time/manner can be compared to restricting who can and can’t carry a gun. While not a good analogy, kids still drive with their friends and when they aren’t supposed to, just like criminals still have access to guns.
The Advocates’ suggests are a laundry list of reforms they want, not ones that Nevada will particularly benefit from. The “headlines” are misleading and make it sound like our state lacks basic laws like “don’t run the stop sign” or hasn’t criminalized drunk driving yet. The Advocates’ priorities read like anti-gun groups suggestions on gun laws; laws that would make gun ownership more restrictive and do little to curb crime.
Neither these gun laws or traffic laws target criminals or serial traffic offenders who break the law with little regard for the consequences. None of the suggestions in either category are meaningful reforms for safety. Instead, they are the wishes of self-appointed experts pushing a false narrative.
Reducing traffic deaths starts with enforcement; and enforcement for safety, not revenue. Safety enforcement takes time and effort when parking with a radar gun/laser out the window is easy—too many local governments prioritize high statistics (numbers of citations) and revenue over safety. No one wants his citation number to go down because he’s spending more time on Boulder Highway busting jaywalkers. However, busting jaywalkers has more potential to save lives and reduce pedestrian collisions than popping someone for speed or cell phones at a red light.
Likewise, gun control is easiest when you just pass a law to look tough on guns and keep the campaign donation checks coming from billionaires. Most guns laws are enforced by chance on criminals who are caught doing something else and the cop happens to come across the gun. Practically no one puts effort into hunting down prohibited persons who try to buy a gun and get their background checks enforced. Busting bad guys on gun crimes is a lot of work for little perceived return.
If we want to live in a state that gets a “F” grade on gun laws, then so be it. If we want to ride around in truck beds without seatbelts, have a BAC of .10 for DUI, carry guns to school when dropping off our kids, or doing 80 MPH with a AR-15 in the backseat, we should be able to have that. So the Advocates’ and the Gifford/Bloomberg/Brady groups can shove their “suggestions” up their tailpipes.
Clayton E. Cramer
Gun Free Zone
The War on Guns
The View From Out West