Cloverleaf On-Ramps And The Law

On behalf of Peterson, Berk & Cross, S.C.

When I was in law school, a professor discussed an interesting analogy. It involved the invention of cloverleaf-shaped on-ramps. The new on-ramps were self-imposed structures, which- like the self-imposition of new laws- improved safety and prevented us from making human errors.

Prior to the cloverleaf on-ramp, people merged on to a busy highway the same way as they did any old road. To drive onto the highway, drivers had to look left and right, and use their own discretion. During the thousands of repeated uses of this discretion, people inevitably made mistakes, and serious accidents inevitably occurred.

The cloverleaf on-ramp removed much of the error-prone discretion from the drivers. With the cloverleaf ramp, drivers no longer had the choices as to when to look left and right, and when and how to enter the highway. Now, drivers just drive on the cloverleaf ramp, which routes them (with no discretion to choose a different route) onto the highway in a safe manner.

New laws, my professor noted, often serve similar purposes. We enact laws- like we construct a cloverleaf on-ramp- to save us from our own mistakes and bad tendencies. To save us from ourselves. Note this is aself-imposed removal of choice- not a non-consensual replacement of our personal choices and liberties. A self-imposed replacement of our own error-prone maneuvers with a structure that we know to do the function at hand better than our manual maneuvers can.

Whoever first envisioned the cloverleaf on-ramp clearly understood that human error is an inevitable part of human nature, and that it is important to establish structures (or laws) to save us from our own known deficiencies.

In this day and age, I fear that most people are too busy being self-righteous when we should be busily identifying our many limitations and self-deficiencies, and constructing clover-leaf laws and regulations accordingly.

DISCLAIMER: The information in this blog is NOT legal advice, nor does it establish an attorney-client relationship between you and Employee Rights Attorney Michael Brown or the law firm of Peterson, Berk & Cross. Legal advice often varies between situations. If you want legal advice for your specific circumstances, you must consult with an attorney.