I have never liked to fly... But since September 11th, I have been even more afraid of it. The Aloha Airline reward coupons that will get my family to Las Vegas and back for $99 dollars each are sitting in my file cabinet collecting dust. Even though we are long overdue a vacation and we’ve yet to see the glitter of Vegas, I just haven’t been able to muster the courage to make the reservations. I have another month or two to come to grips with my fear as the expiration date of the tickets are soon. 

Just as I have been wrestling with the thought of making the travel arrangements, Hawaii introduced and implemented the photo enforcement camera system to issue tickets to speeders and red light runners. I think most of us agree that cameras at busy intersections to deter tragic accidents are a good thing. But ticketing drivers who will be classified as ‘speeders’ for exceeding a mere fraction over the speed limit no matter what the road conditions may be is absurd! The other day while working on the road, I spent so much time looking at my speedometer and felt distracted while driving. I could sense the paranoia of drivers on the road and observed people braking whenever they saw any type of vehicle parked on the side of the highway. The mere stress of this system is a safety hazard of it’s own. Let's get one thing straight…What is a speeder? In the online version of Webster's Dictionary, the word “speeder” is defined as “To make haste, to go or drive at excessive or illegal speed”. In my opinion, a speeder is someone who hastily exceeds the speed limit in a reckless and dangerous manner. A driver in a hurry, weaving in and out of traffic or someone who is dangerously racing with another driver… Someone who drives 61 miles on hour on the straight away of the H-3 is not a “speeder” and does not deserve a ticket. We all know what speeding tickets do to your insurance. It’s a very costly citation. People who intentionally drive in a reckless manner should be cited and punished for their wrongdoing. But being ticketed just for the sake of issuing a citation to anyone going over the speed limits no matter what the driving conditions may be is absolutely wrong.

I am definitely not a red light runner, nor am I a speeder. I am, however, a "go with the flow of traffic" type of driver, and have exceeded the posted limits in a safe and non-reckless manner. Up until January 1, 2002, police have allowed, in certain situations, a margin of miles per hour over the posted limit without issuing tickets. Speed limits, as we have known them to be in the past, were guidelines to follow. We were never expected to keep our speedometers on the exact number that is posted on the sign, especially on the freeways. It is impossible to drive at the exact posted limit without constantly watching your speedometer. How safe is that? Have you ever received a ticket for going 38 miles an hour in a 35 mph zone? A ticket for going 49 mph in a 45 mph area? Policemen made the decision on issuing tickets based on their trained specialty and expertise in traffic control. Now, police are being replaced by a mainland company that makes a percentage of profit off of each ticket issued? The money part does not set well with me at all! We should expect the best from the people in Hawaii and deal with the offenders in an individualized manner. The photo enforcement vans have a “Big Bad Wolf” feel to them…. Lurking around the corner, just waiting for us to make a wrong move! No matter how unintentional the infraction may be, they’ll snatch us up, or in this case, photograph us and fill their tummies with the profit they make from each and every ticket issued. Yummmmmm! How exciting it must be for this company. Two thirds for Hawaii and one third for me. Two thirds for Hawaii, another third for me. What an incentive to ‘catch’ speeders. Again, if safety is the real issue here, why should any company make such a huge profit from this?

A former traffic control cop from California put it so well on Rick Hamada’s radio program this past Friday. The Department of Transportation should be analyzing the ‘hot spots’ where accidents and unsafe traffic conditions occur. If safety was in fact the only issue here, cameras would be installed at potentially dangerous intersections, and traffic cops could be positioned in the known speeding areas to help deter the problem. Placing roving vans in areas to ticket drivers just for the sake of giving tickets obviously shows that this about money, period. If this were truly a safety issue shouldn’t it have been implemented as a non-profit mission? 

Since September 11th, the people of Hawaii have suffered tremendously. The loss of jobs and economic slow down has caused a great deal of stress among our people. Still reeling from the shock and uncertainly of our safety after the WTC bombings, Hawaii was threatened by a new form of a terrorist: a mosquito carrying the Dengue fever disease. People were so concerned about this virus, you couldn’t find mosquito repellant in stores for weeks. Now this? How much pressure can the citizens of our “Aloha State” take? A citation for driving a few miles per hour over the speed limit will dramatically increase the insurance rates of drivers. What will this do to the people who will no longer be able to afford car insurance? On the first day this system was implemented, almost a thousand drivers were ticketed. Those thousand drivers will now be raked over the insurance coals and many of them will eventually lose their insurance.

I am a firm believer of expecting the best from people. I trust that the majority of Hawaii’s residents are good drivers and are not a threat to our roadways. I don’t’ know what we did so terribly wrong that our legislatures decided to implement such a ridiculous and unnecessary way to generate revenue for the state and to financially punish an already suffering economy. 

Not only do I have a fear of flying, I'm now afraid to drive!

-Carol Lee Ramie
Administrator and investigator for Island Investigative Services

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