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Letters to the Editor: Speed limits are meaningless unless police actually enforce them

Traffic study
A city transportation engineer gauges the speed of a passing motorist in Sherman Oaks as part of a survey mandated so police can enforce speed limits using radar guns.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Five years ago, local officials said the only way to slow traffic in our community was to raise speed limits because of a state law allowing enforcement only when the speed limits are based on how fast motorists actually drive. The counter-intuitive argument was roundly opposed by neighborhood councils in Los Angeles. (“Speeding cars kill. So why is California slow-walking efforts to slow them down?” editorial, Feb. 19)

Despite our opinions, limits were increased from 35 to 40 mph on many major roads.

Since then, we have asked for data to show increased enforcement of speed limits. No information has been provided. In fact there is no evidence of any change in enforcement on roads where the speed limit was increased.

City officials say their hands are tied by Sacramento. That may be true, but work should continue to change this outmoded law. In the meantime, enforcement must be stepped up.

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The recommendation by the Zero Traffic Fatalities Task Force that communities have more power to set their own speed limits is a good start, but absent dramatic changes in enforcement we are unlikely to make streets safer for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians.

Anthony J. Braswell, Valley Village

The writer is president of the Valley Village Neighborhood Council

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To the editor: Thank you for the excellent and timely editorial on speeding.

Cycling and walking are not intrinsically dangerous activities, but these modes are endangered by ever-more and ever-faster motor vehicle traffic. Allowing the comfortable and protected speeding drivers to set our speed limits is of course absurd.

Waiting to push for lower speeds until we have documented collisions and injuries is too late. Let’s fix this before more people are injured and killed; otherwise we continue to encourage people to seek the safety of being inside their private cars.

The “rules of the road” must put the onus of care back onto the people who are most endangering to others.

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Darell Dickey, Davis, Calif.


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