Burbank students of all ages are returning to school — many walking or riding their bicycles to new schools, in new locations, while negotiating new I-5 construction detours.
With increased pedestrian and bicycle traffic comes the greater need for motorists to be especially vigilant of bicyclists and pedestrians while sharing the road with them.
Distracted driving, speeding and general impatience (bordering on road rage) are becoming increasingly common on Burbank streets, and it has consequences. During a recent one-week period, local news reported nine separate car crashes in Burbank — with every collision alarmingly involving critical injuries to people, including several pedestrians.
An accident can be defined as an unexpected or undesirable event; an event occurring by chance. Let’s face it, many motor vehicle crashes are not accidents, they are predictable and can be prevented. Thinking of motor vehicle crashes as “accidents” contributes to the perception they cannot be prevented; when, in fact, very few crashes occur because of uncontrollable circumstances.
Before occupational safety regulations, factory owners would say “it was an accident” when workers were injured or killed in unsafe conditions.
Before the movement to combat drunk driving, intoxicated drivers would say “it was an accident” when they crashed their cars.
Planes don’t have accidents; they crash. Cranes don’t have accidents; they collapse. And as a society, we expect answers and solutions to these tragic events.
Traffic enforcement, on the other hand, is no accident either. It is a specific action that yields predictable results. It helps remove impaired, distracted and unsafe drivers from the road, and enforce speed limits and rules of the shared road. It is one way to prevent many crashes from occurring.
But the police can only do so much. We also need better infrastructure for safer streets, and we can all be more aware, more patient and less distracted when driving.
When school opens, please be mindful of students and share the road equally with all users of the streets.
The writer is director of policy and planning for Walk Bike Burbank, a local chapter of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, a member-supported nonprofit organization.