Too much litter

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, February 18, 2014

One of the saddest sights I see on roads around here is inmates picking up litter along the highways and elsewhere.

They are having to pick up litter that people who call themselves law-abiding have tossed out the windows of their vehicles as they drove along with no thought about what it looks like to other, hopefully law-abiding, motorists or what happens to it from there if its not picked up by crews of inmates.

Yes, I said people “who call themselves law-abiding” because they are not law-abiding. By throwing trash out of their windows they are breaking the law. This either happens when no law enforcement officer is around, or else any officer who observes this and doesn’t stop and ticket the offender is, at the very least, not doing his or her job.

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Trash generated in a vehicle, by such things as consuming a fast-food meal, should be kept in the vehicle until the driver reaches a place where it can be put in a trash can — and then put there.

Littering, by the way, carries stiff fines, some ranging up to $500. Unfortunately, the law is very seldom enforced. Cities and counties that depend on traffic and other fines to support the courts and other law enforcement activities are missing a great source of money by not insisting that the littering law be enforced.

What happens to the trash if it isn’t picked up? It washes into waterways such as Hobolochitto Creek. Or it gets chopped up and scattered by mowers cutting roadside grass. Or it attracts animals that it could kill, injure or make very sick. The criminals who throw the trash out of their windows probably don’t care about that, but they may care about having to pay a stiff fine — if the law were enforced.