Red Light, Green Light For 2006

Here's the release from AAA Carolinas:

"AAA CAROLINAS GIVES PRAISE, CRITICISM CONCERNING
2006 NORTH CAROLINA TRANSPORTATION DECISIONS

In the January/February issue of GO Magazine, AAA Carolinas’ member publication, AAA has doled out its opinion on decisions involving North Carolina transportation. Some great ideas received “Green Light” honors, while some bad decisions received a “Red Light.”

Here are AAA Carolinas’ picks for 2006. Green light is praise for a good decision or outcome; red light indicates a questionable decision, at the least.

Green light
To the legislature for requiring back-seat passengers of all ages to wear a seatbelt. The law took effect Dec. 1, but law enforcement officials won’t begin issuing tickets until July 1 to allow the public time to become educated on the law. Roughly 87 percent of front seat occupants in North Carolina buckle up; only 38 percent of back seat riders do the same.

Red light
To the legislature for diversion of gas tax money to the general fund instead of reserving it strictly for roads. The total diverted since 1990 exceeds $3.2 billion. The state’s tax-sharing philosophy is grossly outdated and doesn’t work in a state with the sixth-highest gasoline tax (even with a cap) and the nation’s second largest road network.

Green light
To the North Carolina Transportation Hall of Fame for the induction of Coleman Roberts, who founded AAA Carolinas in 1922, and the North Carolina Business Hall of Fame for the induction of Bert Collins of North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance and a AAA Carolinas board member since 1995.

Green light
To the increase in train passengers on the Piedmont between Charlotte and Raleigh. June was a big month with 6,000 more riding the rails than the same month in 2005. Higher gas prices were a prime reason. Ridership started to drop with lowered gas prices but also contributing is the train’s failure to arrive on time in one of every three trips.

Green light
To the legislature for banning 15-, 16- and 17 year-olds from talking on a cell phone while driving. Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for this age group, and anyone using a cell phone while driving is four times more likely to be in a crash. Teenagers should focus on learning to drive before learning to talk on a cell phone and drive.

Red light
N.C. Legislators capped the state gasoline tax at 29.9 cents a gallon this summer without any plan or legislation to replace reduced revenues caused by freezing the tax. In a state projected to need $30 billion over the next 23 years to maintain its highways, the politically popular act will have negative reverberations at budget time for years to come.

Green light
To the state Department of Motor Vehicles, which will bill vehicle owners for automobile property taxes instead of each of the state’s 100 counties. If you don’t pay, DMV won’t issue a new or renewed tag. One in three motorists failed to pay on time and one in seven never paid in the past. The billing switch will save DMV $8 million a year in postage (the counties pay for it) and help counties collect an extra $80 million a year. Everyone wins except those who don’t pay their taxes and will have to drive without tags.

Red light
The state DOT was almost ready to open a portion of Interstate 485 in Charlotte when it discovered that someone forgot to order the street lights to illuminate the new stretch. Lead time for delivery was several weeks, so the opening of a road that has been in the planning and construction phase for more than 15 years had to be delayed further. Maybe someone felt a few more months didn’t matter.

Green light
To the city of Durham for cracking down on litter in a new program called “Do It Right, Keep It Tight.”

--An affiliate of the American Automobile Association, AAA Carolinas was founded in 1922 as a not-for-profit organization that now serves more than 1.6 million members with travel, automobile and insurance services while being an advocate for the safety and security of travelers."


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