Warm winter welcome
If you’ve ever used your remote starter on a frigid winter morning to get your car nice and warm before you and your small children get in, then you know just how dangerous and reckless that can be.
Finally, police in Forest Park, Ga., are cracking down, handing out $168 tickets to those exhibiting such brazen selfishness this winter.
A law banning unattended idling cars was originally enacted 33 years ago as a way to prevent cars from rolling away. (Who can forget the 1973 Summer of Rolling Terror?)
Now authorities have begun enforcing the law again as a way to cut back on auto theft. While the number of stolen vehicles in Forest Park dropped 25% last year to just 180, 11 cars left warming and unattended were still stolen during the first five weeks of 2007.
Police theorize that if those 11 cars had been occupied by families while they were warming up, the thieves probably would not have just stolen them anyway at gunpoint while holding onto any babies in the car for ransom.
Florida goes hog wild
Cars aren’t the only vehicles that authorities have their eye on. Police in Florida seem bent on preventing bikers from having any fun either.
Last month’s annual Bike Week in Daytona Beach garnered extra attention from police this year. First they began installing GPS tracking devices on high-end motorcycles in case any accidentally “rolled away.”
Then they announced that the city’s noise ordinance would be enforced. Despite hundreds of thousands of bikers pilgrimaging to the city for the week, noise levels were not allowed to exceed 70 decibels, which is equivalent to busy traffic. Bikers or bars that violated this ordinance were issued $75 tickets, and repeat violators were arrested.
To top it all off, city officials let it rain.
Like they say, this ain’t your daddy’s Bike Week. (It’s more like your grandpa’s.)
The 2007 MacGyver hybrid
In Canada, the government is even finding ways to fine you for driving a fuel-efficient vehicle.
In February, a Sarnia, Ontario, man was pulled over just because the hood of his car appeared to be slightly ajar and possibly obstructing his view.
Police discovered that the 53-year-old had taken the propane tank from his backyard barbeque and attached it to his engine’s fuel-injection system with a rubber hose. The propane tank was sitting on top of the hot engine block, held in place by the car’s hood, which was tied down with rope.
Clearly jealous, the officers ticketed the man on some obscure charge of operating an unsafe vehicle.
Hooked on classics
So what happens when the government has fined you out of your home and car? In Austria, they don’t really care so long as you don’t hang out in the subway stations.
In order to push the homeless back onto the streets, officials in Vienna have begun playing classical music in the city’s main underground station. And then, just to kick ’em while they’re down, they also are broadcasting operas on specially installed TV screens.
The hope is that the civilized nature of the music will either force loiterers to move on or encourage more civilized behavior.
Despite this irrefutable logic, social workers who deal with the homeless every day said they didn’t think the plan would work.
But officials remain unconvinced and are planning to broadcast operas wherever those of modest means are not welcome, including banks, hotel lobbies and unattended idling cars.