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Opinion: Tiger Woods crash wakes us up to the everyday nuisance of car culture

Law enforcement officers look over the SUV Tiger Woods crashed in Rolling Hills Estates.
Law enforcement officers look over the SUV Tiger Woods crashed in Rolling Hills Estates on Tuesday.
(Associated Press)

It happens all the time in Los Angeles: A driver rolls his SUV off a road known for frequent crashes, suffers broken bones and is taken to a hospital for surgery and recovery. Although we tend to hear about collisions only when they are truly catastrophic or involve a celebrity like Tiger Woods, vehicle traffic is one of Southern California’s biggest nuisances, with car crashes alone being the fourth leading cause of premature deaths in Los Angeles County in 2019.

It is these themes surrounding Woods’ crash in Rolling Hills Estates on Tuesday — the constant danger from driving that we accept as an immutable part of life and the special attention given to celebrities — and not necessarily the crash itself to which many of our readers are responding. Here are some of those letters.

Jim Winterroth of Torrance takes the sheriff to task:

Contrary to Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva’s assertion that Woods’ crash was “purely an accident,” it was not. What we have is an epidemic of vehicle crashes caused by speeding and inattention to driving that law enforcement does little to prevent.

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Last week, according to police, a 17-year-old driving a Lamborghini at high speed on a street in West L.A. collided with another vehicle whose driver died at the scene. The Lamborghini driver has not been charged with a crime.

In 2019, the state formed a Zero Traffic Fatalities Task Force, but until the public demands that law enforcement treat crashes as completely preventable and hold those who cause them accountable, people will continue to die in traffic every day.

Homer Alba of Glendale wonders why road safety isn’t always a serious concern:

First, let me say that I wish Woods a complete and safe recovery.

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Why is it that a problem that has existed for years — in this case, a notorious stretch of Hawthorne Boulevard in Rolling Hills Estates — becomes an instant concern when it affects someone of wealth or great fame? Didn’t the other crashes and their victims matter too?

Maybe, like the rest of us mortals, Woods was not paying attention to the speed limit or was distracted. OK, but if there were ample reasons to fix a dangerous road that affects all people who drive it, why was it not brought to our attention until now?

I believe that everyone’s safety should be of great concern to local authorities. Why should we wait until someone with celebrity status is affected to do something? I am certain I am not the only one who feels this way.

Richard Merel of Hermosa Beach echoes the same point about celebrity status:

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It’s great news that Woods survived his terrible crash, and it’s good to read the news that local officials are reviewing the safety of that dangerous road and considering improving its safety.

But I’d rather live in a world where a celebrity — or a child — didn’t have to be sacrificed before public officials simply did their jobs.

Jay James of Pico Rivera calls for more speed-limit enforcement:

Los Angeles County officials can do as many reviews and studies of that section of Hawthorne Boulevard as they want, but none of them will change the slope of the road. That section of road is what it is.

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Instead of endless bureaucratic studies and reviews at who knows what cost, perhaps a simpler solution would be to increase speed limit enforcement and write more tickets. Maybe that would help slow down speeding drivers.


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