Safety, my ass

Over here, people who are driving at 5 under the speed limit, always feel the sudden urge to stomp their brake pedal and reduce to 20 under at the sight of anything that flashes. Especially on the fast lane. I would stop those first of all. They must have the car full of drugs and corpses if they feel the need to slow down from under the speed limit.

Riggghhhttt…blame the cop. Don’t blame the asshole that was speeding and don’t blame the other asshole that was following too close. Put the blame exactly where it doesn’t belong.

So, the light turns green and everyone takes off. Lead car is speeding but slows when he sees a cop, and cars coming up from behind are driving below the speed limit but don’t have time to slow without hitting each other? That to me is the definition of driving unsafely. There’s no reason they couldn’t have left more following distance.

The “I have to drive six inches from the next guy’s bumper or someone will get in front of me” excuse is ridiculous. Your desire to prevent other cars from going in front of you does not trump your responsibility not to hit people who slow down, regardless of whether the reason for slowing was valid in your eyes.

That you yourself were able to stop without hitting the guy in front of you by definition means you left enough following distance, but the people behind you did not. This accident is their fault, not the CHP’s.

Legally yes. However, that does not mean the CHP should be doing what they’re doing and are not ethically responsible for the direct results of their actions.

Consider if a jaywalker ran out into the street instead. Everybody stopped in time and the jaywalker is ok, but some people crashed into each other. They might have been driving unsafely but it does not make the jaywalker’s actions any less reprehensible. They were still creating a hazard. CHP, in its attempt to increase ticket revenue is creating a hazard. They might not be legally culpable but that doesn’t make them right.

I disagree. The drivers are completely responsible, both legally and ethically. The only reason a “hazard” exists is because people are driving without leaving any room for error or the unexpected. This is stupid, especially since the type of unexpected events that could lead to a sudden slowing of traffic, while infrequent, are pretty much inevitable. If you drive in such a way that any unusual event is going to lead to an accident, you are being reckless. It’s not the world’s job to make it safe for you to drive recklessly.

So you’re saying it’s absolutely safe to run out into the middle of the street?

Need a little more straw there buddy?
If you can’t see the difference between a jaywalker breaking the law, and a police officer enforcing it, then you have issues.
All the blame belongs squarely on the shoulders of the guy that did not get stopped.

Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying. You’re a good reader.

What I’m saying is that everybody is responsible for what they were doing. The guy in front, if he was speeding and slammed on his brakes is responsible for that. The guys behind me for following too closely. The officer/department is responsible for sitting there with the radar gun – if anything, for the place and the time he chose to do so. Remove any one of those ingredients and the accident would not have occurred. Everybody involved is partially responsible.

You explicitly disagreed and stated there is no ethical blame that can be put on the officer and the department, none at all. They are human. They could have foreseen the results of their actions because this is definitely not the first time this happened. They have the power to address this issue and prevent it in one manner or another. Just like every other involved party. Why are they not responsible ethically just like the rest of us?

I also disagree that the police bear any ethical blame for the crashes. Further, a number of drivers who supposedly already knew better than to drive too close to another vehicle in front now have had that knowledge reinforced. They will pay a penalty for that in the form of citations (if any) and in increased insurance costs (possibly).

The government has been addressing the issue of driving too close to another vehicle for quite some time, at least since I first took Driver’s Ed way back in the mid-1970s.

The jaywalker in the example above is also not responsible for a driver following too close. The jaywalker’s offense, of course, was jaywaling, not “followin too close.” The latter offense was the driver stupid enough to be doing that.

So, just so that I have a clear understanding – you assign ethical blame based on value judgement of the action rather than the consequence? Specifically, can a righteous action not have a reprehensible outcome?

I think that entirely too many people assign weight to the fact that this person was a police officer. That has no bearing on the matter – there was a guy on a motorcycle facing the wrong way on the side of the road pointing something at traffic. For me, the ethical breakdown is
a) Did this setup and action play a significant part in the outcome?
b) Could he possibly foresee such outcome of his actions but chose to do them regardless?

So which one are you saying is not true?

The events break down as follows: There was a causative event, a reaction to the event and consequences of the reaction. Causative event was the guy on the side of the road, but could’ve been anything – squirrel, jaywalker, car failure, etc. The reaction was the guy in front very quickly slowing down. The the consequences was a four car collision behind them. Now, the chances of collision could have been reduced by everybody involved driving safely. The chances of collision are significantly reduced already because there’s a fence alongside the expressway – perhaps to keep things from posing a traffic hazard? You can improve them even more by being more vigilant and keeping people off the side of the road as much as possible.

If you think the CHP disagrees in principle, try parking your motorcycle in a similar fashion and reading a newspaper. You will have a ticket in no time - because you’re being a danger to others. Why is the CHP officer exempt from this?

Hang on a dang minute here…

A lot of people a kvetching about driving too close to the car in front, but from when I learned to drive, the reason for keeping a safe distance was to be able to stop safely if the car in front stops suddenly. That’s always been the definition of “safe distance” with which I’ve been familiar.

It mentions NOTHING about keeping a distance large enough to be useful if you are shunted from behind. How in hell is that the OP’s fault (it may well be, but not automatically from our armchair point of view)?

A friend of mine was in roughly the middle of a five car nose-to-tail sandwich - a garbage truck lost its brakes and cleaned up a bunch of cars stopped at the lights. My friend was stopped - so what’s a safe distance?

This is all aside from the fact that the holy “safe distance” is not only difficult to maintain in city traffic, but also often demonstrably unsafe (I am a great believer in good drivers being ones who bend the rules in real world conditions and do it to actually increase safety), but even if I do keep the textbook gap in front of me, that is based on my ability to stop before hitting the guy in front based on my braking capability and my reflexes, NOT my ability to do that based not only on those criteria, but also factoring in the force of the unknown mass of a following vehicle pushing me forwards. Do I always allow for a fully-laden Mack truck?

There are limits to the precautions a driver can reasonably be expected to take.

In my opinion, the police officer has some ethical responsibilities here. I also have a few points to go along with this. 1.) If the officer was simply trying to slow down traffic, he could simply park an unmanned police car on the side of the road, people see cop, people slow down.
2.) Him hiding around the bend…this shows he didnt want to slow traffic, he wanted to catch some one speeding (increase revenue) because to slow down traffic he could have just…see point 1.
ALSO… I think laws have to be written in some way, so that the guy who slammed on his brakes is the cause of the accident and legally given some fault, not all the blame going to the last guy in line.

And as for the comments about people slowing down when they see a cop when they are already going slowly…plaster me as #1 on that list. I moved from NY to Maine for college. In NY if i drive 50 and the speed limit says 45, im going to get beeped at and killed by someone swerving past me at 60. In Maine, i drive 55 in the 50, on the highway (I-95) and im getting a $200 speeding ticket… I see a cop, im at 15 under the speed limit and staring in my rear-view waiting for him to go away…
thats my rant… sorry about the continuity

Before I respond to your post above, groman, I want you to be extremely clear on one character trait of mine: I have absolutely ZERO patience with people twisting my words and pretending that’s what I said, and I certainly have the same amount of patience for those who make up stuff and pretend that’s what I said. It seems to me you’ve gotten quite close to that line.

No, I assign ethical blame on the individuals who commited the unethical act. In the discussion so far, we’re not talking about ethics. We’re talking about three separate actions: (1) law enforcement, (2) violating the vehicle code by traveling at a distance insufficient to ensure stopping in an emergency, and (3) violating a different ordinance by crossing a street when not authorized (for example, crossing against the light), to wit: jaywalking.

The law enforcement officers are performing their lawfully assigned duties in a legal manner.

The law enforcement officer was in uniform, was he not? Is it that far out of your experience that you have never seen a radar gun?

He was pointing a radar gun, a not unknown device to a great many people.

A significant part? I seriously doubt it. The only outcomes which the LEO should’ve expected were (a) motorists slowing down in a reasonable manner to the posted speed limit or (b) motorists not bothering to slow down and thus earning a well-deserved speeding ticket.

See above about the foresight. Choosing not to perform his lawfully assigned duties would certainly not be a good move, careerwise, I’d think.

I’m saying you’re playing little word games with the wrong person. See my preface above.

The CHP, as is every other police agency on the planet, exempted from normal traffic regulations in the lawful performance of their duties.

You fail to realize that the LEO bears no responsibility whatsoever for the moron who slammed on his brakes to try to instantaneously get to the proper driving speed nor for the morons who thought their brakes could bring their vehicles from 60 to 0 in 0 time.

I think all the police and tailgater talk is taking attention from the real party to blame in all this. The guy who slams on the brakes is the one really messing things up for everyone. Especially if they are accelerating from a red light, most drivers, careful as they might be, are not expecting a sudden stop.

Technically, the last guy who pushed all the cars from behind is the one to blame. Most likely, such guy was either too close or not paying enough attention. But for the guys further ahead, it is reasonable to focus their anger on the guy they saw doing wrong, the first guy who slammed on the brakes and drove home happily unawares of the mess he caused.

It is also reasonable to be angry at the police for missing that detail for stepping over the dollar chasing after the cents.

I was driving a motorcycle in Cuba when I made a very illegal left turn. As I came out of the turn I saw a national police officer in his car. He immediately signaled to me to pull up alongside him. When I came up to his window, expecting a fine or a beating, or having my motorcyle confiscated, he pointed his finger at me and said “¡Que par de huevos tiene usted!”, or “you have a huge pair of balls.” Then he waved me away.

I ethically drove away.

God bless the SDMB. :smiley:

I don’t want to twist your words around, so please feel free to correct me where my understanding is off. You are saying that ethical blame for the outcome is the direct result of unethical acts prior to the outcome. Specifically, if somebody is doing their duty and doing something right they are not responsible for any negative outcomes? This seems like simply a difference of opinion rather than fact or anything else that can be settled in an argument. I simply don’t see the world as black and white.

For me “meant well”, “doing my job”, “following orders” and “did the right thing” are insignificant parts of blame. You either did something or you didn’t, and you could either be reasonably expected to foresee it or not. If you were following orders and drove your tank through my house it doesn’t matter you were on your way to rescue orphans under the threat of being court-martialled – you chose to save orphans and your career in exchange for demolishing my house. You are ethically responsible for leveling my house, and it doesn’t matter that I would’ve done the same thing in your place or your actions overall were ethically right. Any action is a mix of good and evil and seeing the evil of our own deeds is a good way to be able to truly see the good of others.

Based on what I have seen traffic do in the past the same thing would have happened if instead of a LEO there had been:[ul]
[li]Puppy running along the shoulder[/li][li]A deer also running on the shoulder[/li][li]A pretty young lady with a flat tire.[/li][/ul]
So is the puppy unethical? The deer? I will grant you the tire is unethical. Everyone knows they are evil.

I do think the “guy behind is always in the wrong no matter what” rule needs some adjustment. You can’t always maintain a textbook “safe” distance behind the guy in front, in all driving conditions, no matter what. Yes, people WILL change lanes into the slot you’ve created, making the spacing even tighter. Yes, if you are so braindead that you must slam on the brakes because of a girl in a tight t-shirt, then you ARE an arsehole. Drive home and look at internet porn if you must, but get there safely first.