Social breakdown starts with skipping a stop sign

Traffic laws may not be near the top of most people’s list of concerns. Perhaps we’ve become inured, viewing accidents as part of modern life. Unless you’ve been devastated by a heartbreaking loss, it may be no different than any of the other leading causes of death—heart attacks, cancer and chronic respiratory disease. We know these things happen. We just hope they won’t happen to anyone we care about.

Here’s a different take. I believe the breakdown in traffic laws is directly related to the broken-windows phenomenon. When traffic laws can be flagrantly ignored, the door opens to more chaos. This makes not only our streets but our public spaces, homes and businesses less safe. It reduces the quality of life for everyone.

If cities are to continue to attract people, businesses and tourists, if a city’s economy is to remain stable, if cities continue to be a viable environment for human beings, then the basic rules of safety, courtesy, and common sense have to hold. That would start with a renewed respect for something as simple, and as vital, as a stop sign.

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