Originally created 09/06/00

Boot appeal hazardous



Firefighters are well-meaning when they stand at local intersections and extend large boots to drivers. It's called a "boot block," and it's kind of like a road block, but it's all in the name of raising money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

We hate to pick on firefighters, but quite honestly, the fellows with the boots, who are volunteering their time, we presume, are traffic hazards. Stationed at the very intersections and off-ramps where most accidents occur, they pose a threat to public safety. Some of them have courteously decided to conduct their boot drives at supermarket entries, and this is an appropriate venue. People coming out of stores generally have some change to spare and aren't having to worry about much more than a grocery cart rear-ending them.

But drivers digging into pocketbooks or writing checks at traffic lights is not a good idea. There are enough distractions at off-ramps, such as the backed up traffic on the off-ramp from 520 to Wrightsboro Road on Saturday, where some firefighters even crossed lanes of traffic, dodging vehicles, to find likely donors.

They mean well in this program, which is used in other cities. But it raises the question as to whether any organizations would be allowed to create such a traffic hazard. Who is to stop the Girl Scouts from selling cookies at busy intersections in February? Can anyone solicit drivers for donations, or just firefighters? And how is it that law enforcement just turns away from this obvious hazard?

Why, just a few years ago, were hawkers distributing Black Muslim literature at stoplights banned by the Richmond County Sheriff's Department? That was just as distracting as the boot campaign.

All we can say is that it's a good thing firefighters are all certified emergency medical technicians. They'll be the first on the scene to render assistance in any accident they cause.