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Common Sense Is Not Tolerated

By Staff | Feb 22, 2018

Many, many moons ago, or to be more specific, back in 1988, I?was employed by the State of Iowa’s Department of Public Safety Communications Division. On my first day of work, I reported to my new boss, who sat me down in his office and gave me the orientation briefing.

Along with the standard hours of work, etc, etc, he offered some sage words of wisdom that have stuck with me to this day, and I’ve been known to repeat his words often.

“When dealing with State Government, always remember, Common Sense is Not Tolerated – Do it By The Book.”

It took me a couple of weeks to figure out just what those words really meant, but it soon became apparent. In my tenure with the state, I saw countless instances where common sense would indicate a certain response, but “By the Book” required a totally difference response which, in all honesty, could have been accomplished in half the time with half the effort through the common sense approach.

Since those days, I’ve found it amusing to see that for all too many folks, common sense is sadly lacking. If you was a perfect example, try this: Our state lawmakers are currently discussing making a law requiring Iowa motorists to use headlights during daytime hours when driving in inclement conditions that include fog, snow, sleet or rain. This proposed legislation took off like a rocket after the recent 60-vehicle pileup on Interstate 35 between Ames and Huxley during a snowstorm earlier this month.

This pileup occurred in the middle of the day, and law enforcement officers say there are lots of reasons the accident occurred, particularly because motorists were driving too fast for the existing conditions, with limited visibility being a contributing factor in some instances.

Now, such a law isn’t necessarily a bad idea, but what’s sad is the fact that something that should be a matter of common sense now appears to need to be a law, punishable by a fine of $30. The proposed legislation would change the existing Iowa law, which requires headlamps must be turned on between sunset and sunrise, and other times when conditions such as fog, snow, sleet, or rain provide insufficient lighting to render clearly discernible persons and vehicles on the highway at a distance of 500 feet ahead.

With the bill gaining headway in the Iowa Senate, it now moves to the House chamber for consideration and debate.

State Senator Rod Kraayenbrink of Fort Dodge, the sponsor of the act, says supporters of the proposed law view it to be a common-sense measure, that will provide clarification for law enforcement. An amendment to the bill makes it clear that factory-installed daytime running lights will satisfy the state’s requirements.

But, one lawmaker, Sen. Brad Zaun of Urbandale, voted against the bill, saying didn’t feel it was necessary to legislate common sense.

Most states require headlights to be used when visibility is less than 1,000 feet and some states require them when visibility is less than 500 feet. And, at least four states require car headlights when windshield wipers are in use.

Studies have shown daytime use of headlights are especially effective in preventing daytime head-on and front-corner collisions by making it easier for vehicles to be seen, particularly as they approach from far away or in inclement weather,

Common sense says to do what will keep you safe. I’ll err on the side of common sense, any time.