Impaired driving survey criticized
THE National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been taken to task for a strange and disturbing survey it has been conducting on drugged and drunken driving.
The first problem is that the contracted survey takers used police officers to help get randomly selected drivers to pull into a parking lot and take the “voluntary” surveys.
The thing is, even with the signs that said voluntary testing was being conducted, seeing a police officer waving you to pull off doesn’t seem voluntary. Once the drivers did pull off, they could decline to take part in the survey. So it’s not all that bad, right?
Wait, there’s more.
According to an Associated Press story: “Survey takers had been using [devices] to gather breath samples from motorists before they either could agree to take part in the survey or refuse and drive away, belying the government’s contention that citizen participation was entirely voluntary.”
Potential participants also are offered money to provide saliva and blood samples as well as answer questions for the survey.
NHTSA said it will stop using the “passive alcohol sensor” that picks up breath samples before a person gives consent.
Tom Petri, R–Wis., chairman of the House Highway and Transit Subcommittee, was critical of the survey.
“We are increasingly living in a society where people are worrying about Big Brother and government overstepping its bounds in a number of different areas, and I think we need to be sensitive to that,” he said in the AP story.
NEW ON EXPRESS LANES?
Drivers on Interstate 95 may have noticed some new structures rising in the median where the express lanes are being built and expanded.
Those are toll gantries, which will house the “technology, including E-ZPass readers and cameras, used to manage the Express Lanes at 15 locations along the 29-mile project corridor,” according to the Virginia Department of Transportation.
As most know, the project will convert the HOV lanes into electronically tolled lanes. Vehicles with at least three people will be able to use the lanes for free, as will motorcycles and buses. The new lanes are being lengthened from Dumfries to Garrisonville. There are currently express lanes on Interstate 495, to which the new I-95 lanes will connect.
Crews have installed six of 30 gantries that will monitor express-lane traffic along a 29-mile stretch of I–95.
Don’t worry, though, the gantries will not charge a toll for those with E-ZPasses.
The gantries are not operational, and won’t be until the express lanes open by early 2015.
Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436