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I can't drive


Arizona Daily Wildcat

By Colin McCullough
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
November 16, 1999
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Being a volunteer isn't all it's cracked up to be. At least, it isn't in Clinton, Md. where a volunteer fire department has been told their fire truck is not to be used because it has an engine which can go 72 mph (seven miles above the speed limit). The decision is the result of faulty logic on the city's part.

Volunteers purchased the vehicle after an array of fund-raisers such as bake sales and raffles. Only after the vehicle had been purchased did it become clear that there was a problem. And quite a problem it has become as the volunteers are practically stranded without their truck and limited to tasks of a trifling nature because there is a chance they may break the speed limit.

City officials contend that because the vehicle can go faster than the prescribed speed limit, it poses a danger to the general public. They contend that the extra seven miles an hour may allow for the fire engine to get there one to two minutes faster, but at a great risk to those on the streets when the engine does get its call. However, officials have made the faulty assumption that the volunteers will automatically break the speed limit, simply because they can.

If this is the case, it is scary to think of what may be next for the Maryland town. They might as well eliminate pens because they can be used to write fraudulent checks. The postal service would have to be discontinued because it is the apparatus which allows people to send hate mail. Perhaps they will need to return to the days of prohibition and outlaw the sale and consumption of alcohol because that leads to alcoholism and drunk driving. The possibilities are endless. This is a typical example of government bureaucracy and protocol getting in the way of common sense and serving the common good.

It seems that both officials and volunteers have forgotten that simply because a vehicle has the ability to go a certain speed, it is not mandated to go that speed unless the driver chooses to make it do so. In fact, if the city took a moment to think, they'd realize that the vehicles their officials drive to work have the ability to go 72, 100 or perhaps 172 mph. In fact, a quick examination of automobile engineering will make one realize that in order for a car to have any acceleration, it must have a range that exceeds its intended speed. Otherwise it would take minutes to even get to the allowed 65 mph limit.

This does not dictate that officials will do so. Likewise, it is unfair for the city to assume that if the city asks the volunteers to obey the speed limit, they will ignore the city's requests.These people are volunteers. They are already doing the public a favor and have hence shown they have the general public's interests in mind. To assume they would be anarchists on the way to performing a philanthropic act goes against logic.

In the current situation, everyone is losing. There is a volunteer fire department that now sits around all day and a perfectly functional fire engine that gathers dust while fires may rage on in another part of the town. Officials should have considered other options before completely eliminating something that could have been a positive contribution to their town. Perhaps a clear understanding that the car should not exceed the speed limit under any circumstances would have sufficed. Or a device could be installed on the vehicle to track its speed and could be monitored by city officials.

In any case, the officials of Clinton need to realize that they have been given a gift horse that they have not only looked at in the mouth, but have assumed that its teeth would be entirely rotten simply because they could be.

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