That state officials have been spurred to do something about dangerous driving conditions on the Loop 101 freeway along Scottsdale’s eastern edge after several deaths in recent months is welcome news.
Rep. Mark Thompson, R-Tempe, whose District 17 includes southern Scottsdale, told us Friday that he and Rep. Michele Reagan, R-Scottsdale, will join state troopers to examine the 15-mile segment between Loop 202 and Scottsdale Road to find clues to prevent more carnage.
But while Thompson and Reagan are properly responding to terrible tragedies and a daily hazard to commuters, one solution they are contemplating — crafting a bill specifically calling for spending money for more patrols and other safety measures on one stretch of freeway — would go beyond appropriate legislative oversight of the state departments of Transportation and of Public Safety. It would be micromanaging them.
Thompson said he and Reagan are considering including in such a bill doubled fines for speeding in that area. What creating “special enforcement zones” does, however, is slow drivers down within their borders who only speed up again elsewhere.
Thompson said his and Reagan’s interest was sparked by a large number of messages from constituents demanding something be done to improve safety on this particular stretch. In addition, the families of three people who died in a crash on that segment last August have gone public to demand improvements to patrols and freeway barriers.
But these decisions are best left to transportation and public safety officials, who work for overall safety and who have asked for more money to accomplish it. Unfortunately, the state’s fiscal woes have left the Legislature unable to fully fund their requests.
Creating special zones won’t help overall. Besides, if they were created in one area, the family of a fatal-crash victim who someday dies on another segment of freeway soon would be demanding their legislators explain why that segment also didn’t have doubled fines.
Lawmakers should concentrate on how to effectively fund these departments and oversee, not specifially direct, what freeways get patrols and barriers and which do not.
The goal should be guarding everybody’s safety.