Sunday, July 26, 2009

When whiners win

On many occasions, I have sat in on conversations and listened to people say that the Tennessee Highway Patrol must have a quota system when it comes to giving speeding tickets.

Usually, the people doing the talking in these conversations have received a ticket recently from a member of the THP. Their faces tend to be quite red as they recount their experience, and they typically provide several opinions about why they are right about the alleged quota system.

They tend to rant and rant and rant until they run out of energy. It is not until the end of these discussions that they actually admit that they were speeding. I do not know why they delay their admission of guilt. Maybe the frustration of getting a ticket overrides their ability to take responsibility for their actions.

This issue was recently revisited when WTVF in Nashville presented a special report on the matter. The report included a memo allegedly written by a THP sergeant in Springfield that appeared to link the number of tickets written by state troopers to quicker career advancement.

Col. Mike Walker, head of the state highway patrol, denied that there is a quota system, and that the memo did not represent department policy. He basically said the sergeant was acting on his own when he wrote it.

During WTVF's report, there were no allegations that the THP was giving tickets to people who were not speeding. The report only focused on the alleged quota.

When it comes to this issue, I can only state that I do not care whether there is a quota system or not. As long as the THP is giving tickets to those who deserve it, that is good enough for me.

This is a bit of a sore subject for me. I have a long commute each work day so I spend a lot of time on our interstates. Each day I watch people zoom by me with no apparent regard for the speed limit.

In the interest of full disclosure, I must confess that I have exceeded the speed limit every now and then. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone on that one.

The main point is that people do not receive nearly as many tickets as they deserve. When I hear people whine about the possibility of a quota system, it frustrates me because most of these people are folks who simply will not take responsibility for what they have done.

Trust me, if law enforcement agencies (not just the THP, but city police and county sheriff departments as well) really cracked down on speeding, there would be a glut of cars pulled over on the side of the road each day.

If that happened, the whining of people would be so shrill that it would shatter glass in China. Children would look at their parents and wonder why mom and dad were the ones acting child-like. The focus of people would be on how they were being victimized when they were the ones doing the law breaking.

So, for those reading this who do not like the current system, it could be a lot different. The THP does a great job managing our road system. I've personally been on the receiving end of help from them when I've been stuck on the side of the road.

My advice is to stop worrying about quotas and start following the rules.

It will save people a lot of grief not to mention making the roads safer for everybody.

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