Letters to the Editor: California’s 85th percentile speed limit law is killing pedestrians

Speed limit
Speed feedback signs were recently installed on a one-mile stretch of Manchester Avenue in Los Angeles considered to be particularly dangerous for pedestrians and bicyclists.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Whatever factors are contributing to the increase in pedestrian deaths nationwide, there are two causes that seem obvious to anyone that drives around the Los Angeles area.

First, there is a significant lack of enforcement of traffic rules. Every day, I see drivers speeding, running red lights and rolling through stop signs. Yet, I almost never see any police officers enforcing our driving laws.

Second, California’s 85th percentile law requires local speed limits to be based on how fast most people actually drive. This means that if most motorists drive very fast on a particular street, the speed limit will be increased. Effectively, this means that speed limits will continue to creep up, further endangering pedestrians.

Barbara Motz, Valley Village


To the editor: One sentence in this article says a lot: “The driver [whose car struck a pedestrian] passed a sobriety test and was not cited.”


The fact that there is no fear of criminal prosecution is appalling. We all know perfectly well that too many motorists in this city routinely drive in a reckless and discourteous manner, treating every city street like a personal raceway.

Road diets and softer vehicle bumpers will not change their behavior. Aggressive enforcement would be a great help.

Janet Davis, Pacific Palisades


To the editor: I believe one major reason why more pedestrians are dying is widespread noncompliance with laws on red-light right turns.

I am an elderly woman who walks about eight miles per day. I cannot tell you the number of times my life has been in jeopardy because people do not obey the California Driver Handbook, which states: “You can make a right turn against a red traffic signal light after you stop. Yield to pedestrians, bicyclists, and vehicles close enough to be a hazard. Make the right turn only when it is safe.”

People no longer stop, look for pedestrians or even slow down. Gone even is the “California stop.”

Law enforcement needs to crack down on this behavior or there will be even more pedestrian deaths.

Carole Lutness, Valencia


To the editor: I read with shock the number of pedestrian deaths caused by automobiles. Isn’t it past the time that the government steps in to stop this mass violence by enacting sensible car control laws?

The California Legislature is intent on instituting a nanny state, so why isn’t it talking about this problem? Just recently the state tried to limit gun magazines to 10 rounds; it should similarly reduce speed limits.

How many of these deaths could have been prevented if cars were limited to 10 mph? Sure, it will take longer to get around, but think of the children.

Richard Miggins, Toluca Lake