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Comeuppance Time

February 10, 1986

Times staff writer Marshall Berges is so frustrated at tailgaters (Other Views, Jan. 23) that he wants to become the Rambo of the Roadways, pummeling miscreants with secret-compartmented iron balls and other schoolboy inventions.

I sure can't blame him for being frustrated about tailgaters, and the threat they pose to life and property.

But his "solutions" are typical of those produced by the Rambo mentality--they don't work, and worse, they distract from seeking effective, intelligent solutions.

He can sit around and doodle at his paper inventions until someone eventually crawls up his tailpipe on a clogged freeway. Or he can put the onus where it belongs--on the California Highway Patrol, whose officers we pay well to stop such crimes.

But in heavy freeway traffic as Berges describes, have you ever noticed that we're on our own? No CHP around. Only a rare motorcycle officer. Very rare.

When the traffic clears, though, there they are, like frogs appearing from the mud after a heavy rain. But the traffic's now whizzing along, and the tailgating maniac's turned back into his calm Dr. Jekyll form.

Where were the officers when we needed them? They sure weren't in the dangerous freeway lanes where wild-eyed lunatics are darting in and out, crowding up to our rear bumpers where we can't escape the threat.

I've wondered where the patrol cars coop up during the rush hour. Do they have secret escape hatches in the freeway shoulder underbrush? Or find a handy off-ramp and chase motorists off on it to give traffic tickets to pass the time? They've got to go somewhere, because they sure aren't around. And they should be around. Rush-hour freeway traffic's so dangerous because it's one place you can flout the law because chances are pretty good there's no law around to catch you.

So give up your Rambo ways, Berges, and use your journalism platform to calmly persuade the CHP that more surveillance is needed during rush hours. You can support a campaign to crack down on these tailgating maniacs.

Take your complaints to the local CHP office, to the CHP commander, to the state assemblymen and senators, to the local safety committees, to anyone who will listen and might help.

It will make you feel better, and it has a much better chance of doing some good.



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