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Letters to the Editor: Are bigger cars and powerful EVs behind the increase in traffic deaths?

A man with a bicycle is among the people lying on the steps of a building
Traffic safety advocates hold a “die-in” at L.A. City Hall in 2019 to protest the city’s lack of progress on Vision Zero.
(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)
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To the editor: I have never witnessed a pedestrian or cyclist being struck and injured or killed by a driver, but I have read plenty of articles about these crashes. In many of them, the vehicle involved in the crash is listed as an SUV. (“San Francisco and L.A. failed to reduce pedestrian deaths. One girl’s killing shows why,” Sept. 1)

What I have witnessed, however, in addition to SUVs, are electric vehicles (mostly Teslas these days) and other high-priced autos being driven aggressively and in excess of speed limits. The drivers cut dangerously into traffic, even across multiple lanes. Some make right turns from the left lane and run red lights.

Do these recklessly driven, powerful and expensive vehicles cause a disproportionate amount of injury and death on the roads? What have other cautious drivers in Los Angeles observed?

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Tony Litwinko, Los Angeles

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To the editor: While the odds of a pedestrian surviving a 20-mph impact are better than at higher speeds, a human body will still probably sustain fairly severe injuries, especially if a child is involved.

Solving this problem (or at least reducing pedestrian deaths) is a fairly simple matter of understanding basic physics.

The laws of physics say stopping a 2-ton vehicle going 20 mph after the driver spots a pedestrian would take roughly 40 feet of distance before coming to a complete stop. A larger truck would require an even longer stopping distance.

On the other hand, a pedestrian paying attention can react and take evasive action in a fraction of the time that it takes the driver of any vehicle to see and react to them.

Over the years I have noticed more pedestrians blindly stepping into the street with the expectation that it is the responsibility of the driver to somehow instantly stop.

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Instead of spending taxpayer dollars on more studies, I feel those funds would have a much bigger impact if they were spent on more repetitive public awareness programs targeting both drivers and pedestrians. Sometimes people forget the rules and just need to be reminded.

Karen Bryan, Leona Valley, Calif.

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To the editor: I believe we should be considering more than just road design, specifically the widespread blatant disregard of safety rules, and the poor enforcement of those rules. Of course, this is an issue not just for pedestrians, but also for other drivers too.

These include:

  • Excess speeding.
  • Passing with limited views of oncoming traffic.
  • Failure to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks.
  • Turning right against red lights or stop signs without stopping to look for pedestrians.
  • Running red lights and stop signs.

These problems just seem to be getting worse, possibly because there is little chance of violators getting caught.

Edward Savage, Goleta

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To the editor: As long as automakers continue to place large screens in cars that require a driver to take their eyes off the road to, for example, change a radio station, and as long as people are wedded to their phones while driving, there will be continued pedestrian deaths.

And as long as there is little enforcement of traffic laws, this is what we get.

Laurie Adami, Los Angeles

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