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Opinion

Opinion: Slow down, drivers. It’s better for you, and you’re less likely to kill someone

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 14, 2015: Pedestrians cross with the light at the intersection of Slauson an
People cross at Slauson and Western avenues, one of the most dangerous intersections for pedestrians in Los Angeles.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Los Angeles does not have a monopoly of speeding drivers. We here in Orange County can also admit to driving too fast on just about every street and highway, and even in parking lots. (“Los Angeles drivers are killing pedestrians. They need to be stopped,” Opinion, Nov. 27)

Matthew Fleischer notes that while the number of people getting hit by cars has not increased much, the death rate from these collisions has skyrocketed by 58% because of the high vehicle speeds. What I personally and ironically have observed regarding speeding is that those who are busy either with an ear to their cellphones or their fingers on their keyboards seem to drive slower. Distracted driving seems to slow us down a bit — so perhaps we should always pretend to be distracted and drive at a safe speed.

Fleischer’s solution of infrastructure that would force us to slow down would be a boon to all who use our roads without a car. The adage of “stop and smell the roses” could easily be transformed to “slow down, smell the roses, save a life.”

Bill Spitalnick, Newport Beach

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To the editor: Thanks to Fleischer for calling for more creative attention by Los Angeles transportation officials to make our streets safer. However, he opines without citing any supporting data that speeding drivers have “almost certainly” caused the spike in L.A.’s deadly collisions, and suggests that driving 30 mph is “speeding.”

I would say that creating artificial congestion on our arterials (creatively and strangely called “road diets”) is “almost certainly” contributing to more traffic accidents, injuries and lawless behavior (and not to mention spiking tailpipe emissions).

Let’s put the weight where it belongs — not on millions of motorists and their families going from Point A to Point B, but on professional traffic managers who need to stop their political posturing and stop creating artificial congestion.

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Gregory Cherep, Manhattan Beach

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To the editor: I once investigated auto accidents, so I know something about what leads to collisions.

First, many drivers cannot abide delay. Second, all drivers suffer from psychological “scotoma” (they see what they expect or want to see). Many don’t want to see pedestrians, but almost all see a flashing light. So, I cross streets using a flashing light — simple.

Here’s how: I turn the light on in the direction of oncoming traffic when starting to cross a street. On the other side, I finish by using the light as a sort of tail light to guard against the maniacs that want to cut people down from the rear.

I walk every day, and my method is at least 95% effective. As for the other 5%, when you notice those drivers who keep coming, back off or run like hell.

Monty Mason, Santa Barbara

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To the editor: As a commuter cyclist and pedestrian, I couldn’t agree more that Los Angeles drivers need to slow down, and we may need infrastructure to force the issue. While that may take time to implement, I offer a quick, low-tech suggestion.

On a recent visit to Salt Lake City, I came upon a busy corner that offered large orange flags for pedestrians to wave while crossing the street. In addition to being fun to use, they provided a strong visual cue to make drivers aware of our presence.

Small buckets attached to the traffic signal post on both sides of the street made the flags very user-friendly.

Kathi King, Santa Barbara

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