Ross: The solution to traffic deaths could be right above us

Feb 15, 2023, 7:59 AM | Updated: 9:21 am
traffic deaths...
There are around 43,000 traffic deaths a year across the United States. (Photo By Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images)
(Photo By Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images)

We spend billions in this state to ensure that anyone who owns a car has the freedom to drive it anywhere at any time, but a lot of drivers abuse that privilege.

In 2022, 745 people were killed on just Washington’s roads.

More from Dave Ross: The truth is out there between aliens, Chinese spy balloons

That’s about three plane crashes. Or about 180 mass shootings, depending on your definition. Nationwide it’s about 43,000 deaths a year.

However you figure it, it’s way too many.

And a lot of it is because of speeding. There are proposals to use freeway cameras to instantly ticket speeders, which is fine – but what about the smaller highways that can’t be monitored the way freeways can?

I think the answer is staring at us from above: balloons, traffic safety balloons.

I came across an article published in The Guardian three years ago.

It turns out that China is not alone in using high-altitude solar-powered balloons. The U.S. military has been testing a networked vehicle detection system over the Midwest.

The Guardian reported that the military flew about 25 surveillance balloons across six states at altitudes of up to 65,000 feet – launching them from South Dakota and landing them in central Illinois. They were outfitted with networked radars able to track multiple vehicles, day or night, in any weather.

The system was designed to catch drug smugglers, but clearly, it could easily track speeders too. So why not do both?

As bad as drug smuggling is, most of us can avoid drugs if we want to. But there’s nothing you can do about a maniac doing 90 on a two-lane road who swerves into your lane.

The American Civil Liberties Union has qualms about the military running a system like this. Okay, so hand it over to the DOT.

Yes, it should be selective – a car speeding on an empty road, fine. But if it’s careening through traffic, we hunt it down.

This idea that your driving behavior is nobody’s business is nonsense. The roads are public; we all pay for them. And once you leave your driveway, your behavior is everybody’s business.

So there it is. Highway safety balloons. Think about it. And if it doesn’t work – hey, we can always shoot them down, now that we know how.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Ross: The solution to traffic deaths could be right above us