Extended comment about Snow Tire Bill

Extended comment about Snow Tire Bill

I’ve cut and paste just some of the conversation that POL volunteers have had over the infamous “snow tire” bill, just to give you a flavor of some of the dialogue that we have as we debate legislative policy. This bill was also run last year, and just last week the Denver Post’s Editorial Board credited POL with having killed that bill, which we found interesting. Of course, the bill is back this year because, “statists gonna state”. I find this bill to be emblematic of the all too common cry from the freedom-sedated masses for government rescue from life’s troubles and government’s empty promises to “do something”…

ZZZZZ: “If stop signs did not exist, would you oppose a bill that created them?”

WWWWW: Actually, I often travel through towns in Colorado and Kansas that have blocks and blocks of streets that criss-cross in a grid with no stop signs in sight. One of these days I’m going to take the time to find the sheriff and ask him if people are always crashing into each other. My guess is he’d look at me like I was an idiot and say something like, “No, people around here just pay attention to what they’re doing and we don’t any problems at all. You must not be from around here, are you?” Do you believe that we MUST have speed limits in order to know how fast to drive or do you think that people have enough common sense and the capacity for personal responsibility to drive at a speed appropriate for their abilities and the road conditions?

ZZZZZ: “Would you support a ban on all traffic regulations?”

WWWWW: That’s a hypothetical that has nothing to do with the bill at hand. It’s not even comparable because this bill does not ban any regulation at all. The question at hand is the merit of the actual legislation, which is an expansion of existing law/regulations.

ZZZZZ: “Does whoever runs the roads have a responsibility to minimize property damage and loss of life through “proper regulations”, whatever those in authority might think is reasonable?”

WWWWW: This is a fundamental question. Setting aside the question of who is “responsible” for the roads, or who owns the roads (we do, not the “government”) what is the role of government with respect to initiating force upon citizens in an effort to “minimize property damage and loss of life”? Should government act pre-emptively, forcing individuals to take certain actions for their own good, like, say, not smoke cigarettes or pot, not drink alcohol, not make their own decision as to whether to drive on a road, or take part in any other activity or action which may or may not lead to negative consequences for themselves and others? Or does government only have the moral right to initiate force upon someone once they’ve violated someone else’s rights in order to adjudicate justice, punishment, restitution, etc.? I believe this bill forces someone to carry chains in their vehicle based on the calendar, and to use them based upon a vague and subjective description of road conditions. If someone can’t make their own decision on whether to drive their vehicle or not, how in the world could they possibly be allowed to decide whether they’re fit to carry a gun on their person to defend themselves, or go for a hike in the national forest without the proper footwear, clothing and supplies (especially in the winter) and have a campfire (of course, only when there is no fire ban in place!), or go hunting on public lands with dangerous guns that shoot bullets traveling 5 miles at high altitudes, or anything else? Where, indeed, do you draw the line?

This is precisely what XXXXX is getting at when he said, “IMO it is ok for the state to post suggested speeds and suggested ways to drive on the road, but fines & force should only be imposed when there are real victims.  You want to drive over a mountain pass on bad tires – go for it.  But if you impede the rights of others to use the road or damage property in the process – well now we have a problem.” I am inclined to agree with XXXXX.

Moving on to “reasonable”, I would argue that there are already plenty of “reasonable” laws on the books for this issue. Will they “prevent” people from being stupid? No. Not any more than “gun free zones” will make everyone leave their guns at home. You could just make it a law that no one is allowed to have a wreck – that should do it. Absurd, you say? Well in ’40’s I think it was, there was a congressman who ran a bill to outlaw unemployment. Equally absurd, but it was an actual, serious bill. This premise that more laws will fix everything is so ingrained into the thinking of the people that they simply have a hard time grasping the concept of individual freedom and personal responsibility anymore.

So what is reasonable? I think XXXXX answers this when he said, “I believe CRS 42-4-228 5.c.III & IV already set the standard and penalty for unsafe tires.  42-4-1101, 1103, & 1106 already define the minimum standards for speed and the penalty for such violations.”

And as YYYYY said, “Government exists to protect life, liberty, and property and should only intervene at the point at which someone’s life or property has been damaged. We have civil and criminal court for those who have had their life (in the form of physical injury) or their property (their car) damaged as a direct result of the reckless driver. That’s where we have to draw the line.” I am also inclined to agree with this sentiment.

And finally, ZZZZZ brings us to full closure when he says,

ZZZZZ: “You’re right. CDOT can issue rules requiring whatever they want. They don’t need a new bill to do that.  42-4-228 (5) (a) No person shall drive or move a motor vehicle on any highway unless such vehicle is equipped with tires in safe operating condition in accordance with this subsection (5) and any supplemental rules and regulations promulgated by the executive director of the department. (b) The executive director of the department shall promulgate such rules as the executive director deems necessary setting forth requirements of safe operating conditions for tires. These rules shall be utilized by law enforcement officers for visual inspection of tires and shall include methods for simple gauge measurement of tire tread depth.”

Want to join POL in thinking rationally and critically about policy without having to be on Team red or Team Blue? Sign up for a POL training class and join the team; all are welcome.

Photo used under creative commons license. Photographer: R Singh. No modifications were made.