Wednesday, February 17, 2016

“Fill the Boot” Should Be Booted Off the Streets

I’ve written another article for The Paper Trail News that also applies nationwide.  For in many cities one has to dodge firemen and their “Fill the Boot” campaigns for the Muscular Dystrophy Association and other causes.  The problem isn’t the worthy ends but the means which endanger drivers and firemen as well.

So, no, I’m not mean . . . on a good day.  I just prefer not to have to dodge firemen when I drive.

Anyway read for yourself.  (And you may find a counterpoint over at The Paper Trail News.)

Next month, we will have to dodge more than just Spring Breakers on local roads.  For the Corpus Christi Fire Department will be at major intersections with their Fill the Boot campaign on behalf of the Multiple Dystrophy Association (MDA).  So be careful as you drive.

But that friendly advice begs the question – should the Fill the Boot campaign be allowed on the streets at all?  This may rub some people the wrong way, but I emphatically say, “NO!”

Although MDA has had a controversy or two, let’s assume it is a worthy cause.  And certainly we should want to help those with Multiple Dystrophy and do what we can to combat this disease. 

But the ends do not justify the means.  So lets look at the means used by the Fire Department during their Fill the Boot campaign.

In already busy intersections, they roam right on the edge of traffic and even in the midst of cars carrying about their boots to fill.  Anyone who has driven much in Corpus knows that these intersections are often not easy to navigate already.  Yet I’ve more than once experienced firemen making it even more difficult.  Not only are the well-meaning firemen hazards to avoid, but they increase the visual busyness of intersections - and certain intersections, especially along SPID, are busy enough already!  The presence of firemen all about increases the number of things a driver must be aware of and avoid and makes intersections that much more complicated to navigate.

The firemen therefore increase the likelihood an overwhelmed driver will miss something, make an error, and have an accident.  That’s not to mention the hazard to the firemen as well.

One year, I was waiting for a light at Waldron and SPID.  I was aware of the Fill the Boot campaign around the intersection and was that much more careful and alert.  When the light turned green, I began to put on the gas . . . when a fireman darted right in front of me.  I jammed on the brakes.  Fortunately, no one was run over and there were no collisions.  But what if I was slightly less alert?  What if my reflexes were slightly slower?  What if the person behind me was on mental autopilot and rear-ended me?

Again, MDA may be a very worthy cause.  But would we tolerate traffic hazards being so increased for any number of other worthy causes?  Would we tolerate private organizations roaming in and around intersections for their favorite causes?  I would not.  And the city should not.  And no city agency should so endanger us.

Other cities and counties around the nation, including Oklahoma City and Charleston, S. C. are taking the Fill the Boot campaign off of the streets due to safety concerns.  Corpus Christi and Nueces County should, too.

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