Saturday, March 3, 2007

An organization not to be trusted

The National Motorists Association operates under the guise of promoting the average motorist's best interests. It touts itself as a voice for the common man (and woman) against the arbitrary dictates of state and local government with regard to traffic laws and regulations. In reality, it is an anti-scientific organization that would like to take highway safety back to the dark ages of the 1950s when all we did was exhort drivers to behave. Didn't work then, won't work now.

Last June, when fuel prices were still on their steep upward trajectory, the NMA Foundation issued a press release declaring the month as "Lane Courtesy Month." The release urged "motorists to 'do the RIGHT thing' by moving over for faster vehicles...Vehicles consume the most fuel when they are accelerating, and they burn less fuel when they maintain a consistent speed. When motorists encounter a slower vehicle in the left lane, they have to brake and then accelerate once they are able to pass that vehicle. This wastes gas and money! Drivers that do not practice lane courtesy also contribute to increased congestion on our roads. This means that one inconsiderate or inattentive driver in the left lane is often responsible for decreasing the gas mileage of dozens or even hundreds of other vehicles..."

While I agree lane discipline is a good thing (and I practice it myself), this group's real agenda is too refute/repeal any modicum of regulation that would hinder one's ability to drive as fast as he/she wants. Careful tests by in the high desert of California showed that high speed is one of the most detrimental factors in obtaining good gas mileage.

The NMA is against photo radar, red light cameras, most speed limits (except those set by the fabled 85th percentile), motorcycle helmet laws, seat belt use laws, and even the 0.08 drunk driving laws! Any scientifically based study that counters their beliefs is lambasted.

This group may as well be run by shamans and witch doctors, and has the same philosophy as those wacko conservative groups that want to take the teaching of evolution out of our public schools.


Mike, said...

[Mike's note: I copied insurgent's respectful comment from my old URL to this new URL.]

Insurgent said...

I have to respectfully disagree with you about the NMA; I've been a member and a professional driver for years now and can attest to the truth of all their positions. They're the only pro-motorists organization left.

Your mind is obviously already made up about them, but I thought I should throw my $.02 in

March 2, 2007 9:39 PM

Anonymous said...

The NMA is against...motorcycle helmet laws, seat belt use laws...

It is fact that those states that have both seat belt laws (especially those where you can be cited just for not wearing a seat belt) and helmet laws have a significantly higher belt and helmet use compared to states that do not have these laws.

And studies have clearly shown that seat belt use and helmet use save lives and reduce injuries.

So, protect yourself from silly risk taking behavior--Buckle your seat belt and wear your motorcycle helmets. It takes only a second of your precious life. Don't you think it is worth it? I DO!

Mike, said...

Responding to "insurgent"

I agree there is a place for an organization that would help the average motorist's concerns. For example, everyone knows of speed limits that are posted too low, traffic signals that are badly timed, or intersections that are poorly designed. We could use an advocacy organization that would bring some common sense to traffic laws and road design.

In Manhattan, probably the most densely populated place in the US, the speed limit is generally 30 mph, but on much less busy streets and roads in my town (and throughout Virginia), the speed limit is only 25. Does this make sense?

Pennsylvania clings to the notion that people are still going to go 55 mph on rural freeways that would no doubt be posted for 60 or 65 mph in neighboring states. This state also has a penchant for putting up 4-way stops unnecessarily, as a means to keep speeds down. I'm glad I don't live in my native state anymore.

My problem with the NMA is that it wants to throw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater. It's just plain stupid to oppose mandatory seat belt and motorcyclist helmet use laws in 2007, when it's been clear for decades the both are effective in preventing needless death and suffering. And it's been amply proven that you can't simply "educate" people into wearing belts or helmets -- it has to be mandated by law.

We're still killing 43,000+ Americans every year on our roads, or over 117 per day. That's like a half-loaded airliner going down with no survivors every single day. And unlike deaths from heart disease, cancer, and stroke, a lot of auto crash victims are cut down in the prime of their lives, with a whole future ahead of them that will never be.

But too few think this is outrageous; we shrug it off. We know of scientifically validated ways to significantly reduce the carnage, yet our state legislators bow to frivolous "personal freedom" or "privacy" arguments that prevent putting such measures into place.