To the Editor:
Everyone is aware of the litter problem along our highways in Rhode Island. I single out Rhode Island because it is my state and all states do not have this same problem. New Hampshire is one whose highways are usually litter free. I think they pick up litter frequently and since the highways are clean, fewer people are inclined to litter.
In Rhode Island one sees signs along many of the roads noting that it is illegal to litter and it is strictly enforced with a find of $500. I have never seen in the newspaper any notice about anyone being caught and or fined, not have I ever heard of anyone being caught and or fined. The warning I think is very “hollow.”
If I broached the subject to other authorities, I am sure they would tell me that it is very difficult to catch anyone in the act an I’m sure that is true, but it appears no one has been caught and punished in many, many years, if ever. The litter problem is not being reduced, in fact it seems like it is getting worse, which make me wonder how hard we are trying to clean ups the mess and keep it clean.
I would like to offer my solution not the problem. First I would change the fine from $500 to $200, which is more reasonable and I would awarenesses the find to the individual who witnessed the act and reported it to the authorities, upon conviction. This would be an incentive for an observer to report a litter bug. I realize that it is difficult to catch someone in the act, however almost everyone carries an iPhone these days which includes a camera, so ˆ think the chances of someone being caught in the act of littering is better now. In addition to the $200 fine, I would include two hours per-day for five days of Litter Pickup duty along our roads. The individual would wear an orange, reflective vest with the words “Litter Bug” on the back and be followed by a police car for protection.
If my suggestions are adopted and enforced, I’m sure most people would think twice before littering and anyone who had suffered the penalty would be a lot less likely to litter in the future. They might even be on the lookout for someone littering, so they might be able to collect a $200 fine instead of paying one.
The litter along some of our roads is disgusting and it has been going on for a very long time. Something positive should be done and I think my suggestions should be tried, unless someone has a better idea.
Charles A Sweet