Throughout history, societies have indicated what’s important to them by the price of the fine placed on certain infractions. Nowhere in the world is enforcement of the law against blocking intersections more important than here in the metro Atlanta area. Not only do we have some of the worst gridlock of any major city in America, but that gridlock is largely caused by the morons who block intersections. In doing so, they cause thousands of cars to idle, releasing dangerous substances into our air producing one of the highest per capita rates of asthma in America.
But that’s only a byproduct. Ever seen a fire truck or ambulance trapped by the halfwits who block intersections? I have. I’ve watched as precious minutes tick by and some idiot sits there, blatantly illegally blocking an intersection and stupidly mouthing the words at the fire rescue people “I’m sorry.” They’re sorry? Someone is dying because of their stupidity, selfishness and criminal behavior and they’re “sorry”?
Hanging a huge fine on blocking intersections isn’t a matter of ginning up revenue, it’s a matter of making good laws work for the benefit of the many at the expense of the imbecilic few who are to blame for much of our air and traffic woes. The argument that other cities use civilians to help enforce their intersection laws—something they’re greatly aided in doing by their cities’ painting of intersections with a “no stopping” grid—is hardly an argument to make here in Atlanta where we don’t even go so far as to paint the intersection or ask permission of the DOT to do it if the intersection involves a state thoroughfare (the DOT would likely give permission given that it is scrambling to find ways to alleviate gridlock). We don’t even post fine amounts for blocking intersections here. The signs we have say only “Do Not Block Intersection” like it’s a bad idea, not that it’s something that Atlanta is serious about and will stiffly punish you for doing.
Even littering seems more important than the life-threatening results of blocking intersections. The DOT and other agencies post signs that say things like “Littering $300 Fine” in certain areas. DeKalb County posts signs that warn you’ll be fined $500 for talking on your cell phone if you are involved in an accident. Yet surely blocking an intersection is a much more surefire way to cause traffic mayhem than either of the above.
We need to stick a fine on blocking intersections so hefty that the message we send is unmistakable: We will not tolerate people blocking intersections. The accusation that doing so is just a way to “gin up revenue” ignores the very real dangers posed by blocking intersections and the very purpose of our laws—to protect us from such dangers. The lame excuse that people have places they have to be is simply that—a lame excuse. We all have places we have to be. We have laws to help make sure we get there safely. The fools who endanger the rest of us by blocking intersections should be paying for their stupidity and criminality.