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Opinion

Readers React: Driver attitudes need to change for L.A. to see an end to traffic deaths

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A cyclist rides on Manchester Avenue in South Los Angeles, one of the most dangerous roadways in the city for pedestrians and bike riders.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: The fact that traffic deaths have increased sharply in Los Angeles since the beginning of a program to eliminate them highlights how hard it is to make road safety improvements when people fight against them. The result is that while deaths for motor vehicles have declined, they’re up for vulnerable road users such as bikers and walkers.

Enhancements to vehicles, signage and key intersections are critical, but they are not enough. We need to improve the entire system, and that starts with changing attitudes. People should expect safety on the road the same way we now expect safety in our skies.

In the coming year, a new federal transportation bill will authorize the next generation of safety programs. We must fund improvements that will make roads safer, not only for bicyclists but for all roadway users.

Los Angeles’ Vision Zero program is on the right track and actively working to change our thinking around how we use and design our roads. All roadway users deserve to survive their commute. Allow L.A. leaders to implement the changes that have led to fewer deaths in other cities.

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Alex Epstein, Sherman Oaks

The writer is transportation safety director for the National Safety Council.

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To the editor: There is no hope for Vision Zero since many drivers do not care if they kill somebody. At least that’s what their actions say.

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I still see some drivers holding cellphones. Each week I witness between two and three motorists run red lights and even more roll through stop signs. The majority of drivers violate speed limits.

Additionally, some are distracted by streaming videos on cellphones and tablets. Or, drivers cannot see out of their windshield due to the illegally affixed Uber and Lyft decals.

Jim Winterroth, Torrance

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To the editor: The goals of Vision Zero are commendable, but the entire program seems to be based on the idea that better design alone can fix traffic problems.

Better design does not prevent dangerous actions by drivers, motorcyclists, bicyclists, scooter riders or pedestrians. Often design-engineered delays are the cause of the dangerous actions, like jaywalking, speeding, driving in the bike lanes or ignoring red lights, that lead to injuries and deaths.

Only through enforcement can the goals of Vision Zero be reached. Until the supporters of Vision Zero put forth a plan that makes enforcement key, their goals will never be met and their fancy road designs will be costly failures.

Keith Price, Los Angeles

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