Stop the Maryland Unsafe Driver
A Legislation Proposal
We think the drivers in Maryland, and perhaps drivers everywhere in general, have adopted a culture of
recklessness as the behavioral norm. We see this culture acted out among a diverse group of drivers that display vanity plates supporting various organizations and occupations. This culture of recklessness has adopted an unsafe standard that endangers us all and the organizations that sponsor the vanity plates can help Maryland change this culture to one of safe motoring.
Driving behaviors like excessive speed, tailgating, running stop signs and red lights, aggressive driving, unsafe passing, and unsafe driving in adverse weather conditions or darkness, are consistently worse from year to year despite enforcement efforts. Accident deaths and injury numbers remain almost the same. Those of us fed up with the dangers on our roads have not seen much improvement in the risky behaviors that are often the proximate cause for collisions.
We think that enforcement efforts are largely directed at unsafe speed and driving under the influence with little attention paid to aggressive driving and unsafe driving in general. That’s our suspicion. It isn’t hard to understand why we believe as we do, because we see drivers of vehicles with public safety vanity plates disregarding Maryland traffic laws on a daily basis in Southern Maryland. There is a serious lack of example setters on Maryland highways – private or commercial. That needs to change.
The culture of recklessness enjoys the indirect support of organizations that allow their members to display organizational vanity plates. Yacht clubs, sports fans, public safety unions, and civic groups alike may not be doing enough, or could be doing more, to insist that their members not disparage the character of their organizations by recklessly driving vehicles tagged with their vanity plates. Likewise, our public safety personnel should be obeying the traffic laws whether or not they use identifiable vanity plates.
We believe every organization in the Maryland organizational vanity plate program should insist that members displaying the vanity tags observe Maryland traffic laws. Members that do not observe these laws should lose the privilege to display the tags. Organizations can include an agreement with each application that each member is required to sign and date.
It is time to hold the worst drivers accountable for their behavior. Programs to date do not appear to be making a difference. We need to remind those that should be setting example to do so and their organizations can help in the effort.
To that end, we suggest to the Maryland Legislature that a law be enacted to:
- The State shall require organizations in the vanity plate program to direct members to obey all traffic laws or risk losing the privilege to display the plates. Members that receive a citation for speeding, tailgating, excessive speed, reckless driving, and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, in addition to any other penalty, shall be required to surrender their vanity plate upon conviction and notify the organization sponsoring the plate within ten days of conviction. The organization shall determine after a period of one year, or the driver’s probation period, whichever is longer has elapsed whether or not the member, fan, or supporter shall again be allowed to display the plate, except that ANY public safety member or family member displaying public safety vanity plates and convicted of one of the above violations shall lose the privilege to display such vanity plate – permanently. The term public safety member shall apply to members displaying public safety union vanity plates, fire department union or membership plates, medic plates, military, search and rescue, federal or state. Likewise this law shall apply to any license plate granting special privileges including but not limited to press plates, handicap or disabled plates.
- Further, every driver so convicted, including those drivers not displaying vanity plates, shall be required by this statute to display the Maryland Unsafe Driver license plate(s)
- on their personally owned vehicle(s) for a minimum period of one year from the date of conviction or for the duration of the driver’s probationary period whichever is longer. In addition, any person receiving such conviction while driving a company owned vehicle during the course of employment shall display a Maryland Unsafe Driver placard in the rear window of any vehicle driven for employment purposes for the same time period. Failure to display the placard as required shall result in a driver’s license suspension period of ninety days. Removal of or failure to display the MUD license tag as ordered will result in a driver’s license suspension of ninety days.
- The MUD plate shall be the same size and shape of the regular Maryland license plate. The color of the license plate shall be Federal Safety Orange with black lettering. The first three letters of the Maryland Unsafe Driver license plates shall be MUD in the case of driver’s convicted and without a probationary period. The letters MUP (Maryland Unsafe Probationary) shall be issued for all drivers with a probationary period as a result of their conviction. The words, “Maryland Unsafe Driver” will be written on the bottom of the license plate. Example:
The entire cost associated with this program shall be born by the drivers convicted after the passage of this bill.
(Please not we are still working on the wording of our proposal and welcome any comments.)
Traffic light clip art courtesy of clickr.com
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