Thursday, May 24, 2018
Transportation

Sue Carlton: The governor's good move to slow us down

Rick Scott is right. There, I said it.

Florida's governor — a guy who at times has been ranked one of the least liked in America — said last week he would veto a controversial bill that would have allowed those pedal-to-the-metal types to fly down the highway at 75 miles an hour instead of a mere turtle crawl of 70.

Truth is, a whole lot of Florida motorists already use the local interstate as their personal Talladega — this legislation would just have made it a little more legal. Which seems ill-advised, given our unwritten tradition that says if you are unwilling to seriously speed, you'd best stay out of that left lane where the big dogs run.

Otherwise, you risk a car riding so tight behind you the driver must surely be counting the individual dead bugs on your car.

The concept that speed kills is hardly new, just largely ignored in our quest to Get There Now. So this law that would have literally pushed the limits on some 1,500 miles of interstate — including parts of I-75, I-4, I-10, I-95, the Suncoast Parkway and the Florida Turnpike — would not have helped on this point.

With this veto, Scott strikes a rare and sincere-sounding note of humanity, particularly notable given that he is sometimes likened to Harry Potter's nemesis Lord Voldemort, only not so warm.

He talked of this veto days after he attended the funeral of Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Chelsea Renee Richard, who was killed by a pickup while she was working a wreck. As the story goes, a fellow trooper at that funeral got the governor's ear about how we do not drive with common sense in these parts, and later Scott said he would "stand with law enforcement" on this one. Good.

What's that?

I'm sorry, did someone say "election year?"

Because before I get too starry-eyed about this pushback against a law that could literally mean lives — AAA will tell you most states that have gone to speed limits above 70 have more speed-related fatalities — there is this:

The governor's biggest hurdle in his upcoming bid for re-election may just be the schmoozy ease that comes off his opponent Charlie "Never Met A Stranger" Crist in waves. This is no small thing — Crist's sincere handshake, his soulful I-feel-your-pain gaze, his sure-you-can-borrow-my-leaf-blower-and-let-me-help-you-paint-your-house-while-we're-at-it vibe.

And yes, it's fair to say we've got plenty of posturing, pandering and politicking on both sides of the aisle.

Just last week, Scott dodged barbs from Jennifer Carroll, his once-upon-a-time lieutenant governor who was ousted last year. And Crist is likely bracing himself for this summer's release of a book of tales from Jim Greer, once-leader of the state Republican Party who went off to prison and also seems a tad disgruntled.

Crist recently made a bold move with talk of a summer trip to Cuba. Scott said he'd veto a bill that law enforcement officers who deal with the carnage on our highways daily did not like. So it goes in politics. Pandering? Possibly. Probably. Positively. You pick.

But police will tell you that Gov. Scott vetoing the I-can't-drive-65 bill will save lives. Politics or practical public policy — who cares? Given our driving record here in Florida, we'll take it.

Comments
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