Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Whose Crime is it AnyWaze?

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Five years ago when the law man had me bent over a table Catholic-style, I was summoned to court a couple of times. On one occasion, a well-presented gentlemen was listed before me to appear in front of the judge in the hopes of having a drunk driving charge reduced, probably using the ‘But I'm Rich’ Defence. His articulate lawyer presented to the court that his client had been at a work event where waitresses walked around serving him glasses of wine on trays, impeding his ability to keep track of how wasted he was getting. Cut to later on in the night, he apparently got behind the wheel of his Mercedes Benz, or whatever car poncy fat cats drive, and upon spotting the random breath testing stationed up ahead, he drunkenly attempted an illegal 'U' turn manoeuvre like a modern day John Wayne. This attracted the attention of the police he was trying to avoid, for which he was caught, breath tested anyway and booked accordingly. Of course, had he simply downloaded an app and exercised some of what is commonly known only by me as 'nice guy law evasion', he would've been in the clear and I wouldn't have had anything to chuckle about later that night. What's more bizarre than funny is that not only is it getting easier to evade the cops nowadays, it's also becoming more socially and legally accepted; is that not strange?

There was a day when if you were in a car that had a police radio scanner installed, it either meant you had shifty friends, you were balls-deep in some shady Nightcrawler shit or you took shrooms and got butt-naked in the middle of a McDonalds again, but nowadays we all kind of have police scanners in ours cars, do we not? They're just in the form of GPS units and apps like Waze. When I bought my first GPS navigator and it kept telling me where all of the speed cameras are, I was like "What the? Why do I need to know that? Shouldn't I just be going the correct speed all the time?" As a general rule, whenever I get behind the wheel of what can essentially become a weapon with a twitch of the hand, I just do this thing where I go the speed limit, that way I can worry less about being photographed by the state and focus more on updating my Twitter feed with my free hand. #about2die. This was five years ago as well, and just when I thought that was bad, Waze entered the scene and took it to a whole new level!

Waze is a navigation app which uses crowd-sourced information to set itself apart from less sinister apps like Google Maps and Navman. It's basically the Wikipedia of the road. For example, if there's a crash where you are, tap the crash button and the app will warn other nearby users that two or more idiots have caused a traffic interference up ahead. More importantly, if you spot a cop, just tap the cute little man with the police hat and users nearby will literally hear "Police reported up ahead". How is this shit legal? It's the technological advancement of flashing your high beams at cars on the opposite side to warn them of the fuzz hidden behind the trees up ahead. Oh! There are cops nearby? Well then, let's slow the fuck down, throw the weed out the window, close Tinder, and pretend that we care about safety for a minute.

However, the larger question is: How is everybody else so okay with this? I mean us, as citizens! Nobody seems to be batting an eye lid at the fact that all of us are essentially racing around the streets like Michael Schumacher, doing metaphorical 'U' turns whenever there is a speed camera or a police unit nearby, just like that well-to-do drunk driver was being charged for that day. So again, why the fuck was he being charged really? Was it because he was committing a crime, or because he didn't have an app? I'm confused.

Let's be real, to us, speeding and driving while fatigued or under the influence are these tiny negligible crimes; they're nice guy crimes. It's like disobeying bicycle regulations or embellishing on your tax write-offs; insignificant, victimless offences. "Ten dollar slacks for work. Pshhht! Let's say they were thirty and plan a trip!" But actually, those things are really only as nice as we are morons, because speeding is a nice crime which can rather quickly become very dark, like what your prsion cell would be, or the inside of a coffin, I suppose. The ABC reported 348 road deaths in NSW last year, attributing "speeding, fatigue and drink and drug driving" as the main causes to fatal road accidents. We do some of these things the same way that we underestimate our earnings in our welfare paperwork because we see our stupid friends doing it, but those two things reside in such different ballparks, they may as well be in separate fucking universes. The only way you can die from one of them is if you're walking to the welfare office and a piano falls on you! Australian television once ran welfare ads primarily shaming those who make "mistakes" on their forms, little did I know that while we were busy thinking about that, companies like Waze and Navman were paving the way for the normalisation of dangerous driving, which is what this is, let's not lie to ourselves.

So, we can all prance around and say things like "When I drive stoned, I'm more alert", "Blogs are stupid" and "Stop making a big deal over 15 kilometres", but the reality is that numbers still have meaning. Numbers of road fatalities due to dangerous driving mean something. The numbers authorities put on speed signs mean something (most of the time, see point four); believe me! Have you seen Sydney traffic? They want us off the road as quickly as possible and yet, they're still asking us to go 50 kmph in residential areas. Why? Because 50 means something different to 60. So, the day that either numbers become irrelevant or become low enough that we can be trusted to govern ourselves is the day we can ignore being only 15 kmph over what's posted. But if we continue on this path of allowing things like Waze to fly under the radar while it breeds an acceptance of police circumvention and speeding, those numbers won't be going down and we'll be just as bad as that fat cat in court with his silver Mercerdes or whatever the fuck he drives; mark my words.

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