Commentary

News story: The Right’s obsession with tax cuts and appeasing rich donors is putting NC lives at risk

McCrory Truck

Gov. Pat McCrory

If you haven’t checked it out yet this morning, be sure to read this story by Bruce Siceloff, the transportation reporter for Raleigh’s News & Observer about a trucker and his terrifying crash on I-77 near Charlotte recently. As Siceloff explains, the trucker fell asleep at the wheel after unsuccessfully trying to find a rest stop at 2:00 a.m. and contemplating the $600 fine he would have received if he tried parking near an exit ramp to rest. Here’s Siceloff:

“He was driving Friday through one of the worst states for truckers trying to find a legal rest stop. Truck drivers need to rest when they’re sleepy or when they’re running up against federal hours-of-service limits. A 50-state survey showed that truck-stop and rest-area parking spots for truckers are far less plentiful in North Carolina than in neighboring states.”

And although the trucker apparently didn’t know the details of the crackdown that North Carolina has launched against parking truckers in recent years, his concern about a fine was well-founded. Here’s Siceloff again:

“A complaint to Gov. Pat McCrory from a political supporter last year sparked a quirky crackdown by the State Highway Patrol on drivers – mostly truckers – who park for naps beside exit ramps. And I-77, with a documented shortage of legal rest spots, is where troopers wrote most of these tickets last year.

To justify their “data-driven” no-parking campaign, Highway Patrol leaders seized upon crash statistics that greatly overstated the link between parked vehicles and fatal crashes.

Recent court records suggest that the patrol’s ticket-writing frenzy has slowed down this year. But a spokesman asserted Monday that ‘the parking enforcement emphasis is still ongoing.’”

In other words, as they have in so many other areas, North Carolina’s cheapskate leaders have put the public at risk with their tax cut-obsessed, special interest-driven policies. Because the state lacks adequate revenues to maintain enough rest stops, truckers are barreling down our highways without adequate rest. To make matter even worse, the poor guys and gals can’t even pull off on an exit ramp for a brief rest thanks to the griping of fat cat political donors who think their trucks are unsightly. Somewhere the pre-Christmas Eve Ebeneezer Scrooge is smiling at the “logic” of these shortsighted policies.

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