Let's be honest for a moment and face a cold, indisputable fact: Traffic laws are not designed for safety. They are designed for one thing, and one thing only: the extortion of money from citizens.
Take, for example, speeding laws. You could make the argument that speed limits are there for our safety, although I'd argue that the limits are set at such artificially low numbers that virtually everyone is forced to speed just so they get where they're going. There's a lot of straight, mostly level roads in my area, perfectly safe to travel 60mph or more, and they're set at 40mph, sometimes as low as 30mph, and these are major artery roads. (This is Atlanta, but this phenomenon is by no means unique.) Why? It would take three weeks to get anywhere at these speeds, but if you go faster, you're a demon on wheels who should be curbed and shot, you menace to society, you.
My conclusion is that often, speed limits are deliberately set low, just to increase the number of 'speeders' and thus, the number of tickets, and thus, the amount of money for the government. Consider the police officers who set up "speed traps". I cannot think of a more apt name for this practice - the officers will go to a road and set up a laser gun and a few motorcops, lining up citizens one after another and ticketing them. It's like a slaughterhouse.
Why do the cops select certain roads to do this on? Because they know that almost everyone exceeds the speed limit on these particular roads. And why does everyone exceed the speed limit on these roads? Because they're travelling at a perfectly safe velocity, and the speed limit is just set ridiculously low.
Anyway, that's just speeding. Think of all the other nonsense traffic laws that are out there. Does anybody really care if I have a tag light out? It's not as though someone behind me is unable to read my plates because of it. Laws like that are in place for two reasons: To generate revenue, and to give a cop an excuse to pull someone over in order to look for something more serious. Stop signs are placed in areas they are not needed, just to generate more tickets (or to appease whiny busybody housewives whose indignant bleatings about 'maniac teenagers' prompts the city to throw stop signs all over the place.. meanwhile said housewife knocks over three trash cans with her shiny new SUV while jabbering into her cellphone and putting on makeup).
Safety indeed. Someone please explain to me what is 'unsafe' about travelling more than the posted speed limit at 3am when no other cars are on the road? How about those times in the middle of the night when you're idling at a red light for two minutes when no other humans are visible for miles in any direction? What is 'unsafe' about just going through the damn light?
Oh, safety, yes. I deserve a ticket because, oh horror, I didn't "register" my car this year. In my state and many others, vehicles are required to have their tags 'renewed' yearly, which means you get a sticker with the current year to slap on the plate. The cost for this service you are so generously being provided is based on the value of your car. Apparently it costs more for the government to give a sticker to a Porsche owner than a Honda owner.
Now, I understand why a car needs to be registered.. once. Obviously the government needs to know who owns what car; the reasons for this are endless. But once I register my car, I should never, ever have to do it again, until the car leaves my possession. I should not have to pay outrageous amounts of money every year just to tell the government what it already knows: This car belongs to that person. If that hasn't changed since last year, fuck registration, I say.
Traffic court itself is designed as a collection plate for the state. A citizen doesn't stand a chance; the cop's charge on the books is received as wholly sufficient evidence that a law was broken, and sentence is passed without a word really being asked of either accused or witness. If a cop says you ran a red light, you did. If he says you were speeding, you were. If he says you 'rolled through' a stop sign, you did.
The judge is there only to tell you what law you broke, not to listen to your case. (Not that you have a case: How can you 'prove' your innocence? Are they going to take your word for it, or listen to the cop? Yeah.) And there is no trial - they merely read your "crime" to you, tell you how much you owe, take a portion of your money, and send you on your way.
Does this sound like a system that is interested in making the streets safer to drive on? Or merely one that provides revenue?
What about the quota system? A cop must write a certain number of tickets per month, or be subjected to some penalty or other - I'm not really sure what. But regardless, this arbitrary number of tickets exists and the cops must fill it. That is why you'll see them hanging around high schools with speed traps at the end of every month - what an easier way to fill your ticket quota in a hurry at the last moment before it's due?
Can someone explain to me why there is a quota system? Oh, on some level I can understand the need to make sure the cops are actually doing their job and not just slacking off, but with high quotas limits set, your friendly neighborhood law enforcement officer is now forced to make criminals out of people who are not really causing problems, set up assembly-line ticket factories (sorry, I mean speed traps), etc.
Liability insurance is a slightly different issue. I can understand, conceptually, why it is a good idea to require that drivers carry a minimum amount of insurance. The problem is that since it is a law that we must pay private companies for the service (a service which we will most likely never, ever use or need), said companies are free to charge whatever they wish to charge. The notion of capitalist competition fails to apply here, because it is a service required by law, and furthermore, as long as all the insurance companies (and there aren't that many) overcharge for their "protection", they can get away with raping their clients. I realize that my case is not typical, but to give you an idea, I pay more than my car is worth every six months, to be "insured" against an accident that will probably never happen. I drive ridiculously defensively, have avoided countless dozens of collisions due to my foresight and safe driving practices. I always wear a seatbelt, never ever take risks, and can always tell when someone is about to do something stupid, thereby avoiding a potential accident. Yet because I was in a wreck three years ago, I'm a "big risk" to insure and thus end up having to sell my internal organs every six months to a private company so I can pay for a service I don't want, don't need, and did not ask for.
Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words:
Overall, the traffic laws and courts are a shite state of affairs, and unfortunately I see no way to end it. The very people who make these laws are the ones who benefit from it. No politician is going to vote to remove the very trappings that are providing his funding, so it's not as though we can just 'vote the bums out' (fanciful dreaming as that is anyway).
I guess there's nothing for it but to be bitter and resentful.