Viewpoint: It’s time to demand safer streets

By Ian Barwise

According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, 893 pedestrians were killed on California roadways in 2018, a 26% increase from 2014. More than 14,000 pedestrians were injured in 2018 and pedestrian deaths rose 26% between 2014 and 2018. Nearly 7,500 pedestrians have died in California between 2009 and 2018. No state has more pedestrian deaths on its roadways than California with a fatality rate that is almost 25% higher than the national average, according to 2024 figures from the COTS.

It seems a week never goes by here in Southern California without a new traffic-related pedestrian fatality. It’s become so common that people tune it out. In late May a 6-year-old girl tragically lost her life, and her 19-year-old big sister was left is in critical condition after a 19-year-old driver from Upland allegedly ran a red light and hit the girls who had been crossing the street with their mother in a marked crosswalk in Pomona. This is an intersection that I’ve driven through many times.

On the same day the Pomona accident occurred, a 33-year-old mother was killed in downtown LA when she was pinned against a building by an out-of-control SUV that jumped the curb. Apparently, it’s not safe to walk on the sidewalks in downtown LA.

In March, also in Pomona, an alleged DUI driver killed three women who were on their way home from a baby shower when he ran a red light going “well above” the posted 35 mph speed limit. The driver was charged with murder and faces life in prison.

I’m wondering where all the traffic cops running speed traps are these days. That used to be a real thing back in the 1980s and ‘90s as I recall. Why is there not more funding for cops to crack down on speeding violations and DUIs? Why do our local police departments have to rely on federal or state grants to run DUI checkpoints? All these senseless tragedies are avoidable if drivers slow down and pay better attention.

I hate to be the one to say it, but I’m hoping AI is incorporated into automatic license plate reader technology, facial recognition software, and CCTV traffic cameras to automatically issue tickets for speeders, red light violators, and carpool lane scofflaws. Enough is enough. It’s out of control. It’s time to start revoking driver’s licenses and impounding vehicles.

Traffic violence continues to get worse year after year and very little, if anything, is being done about it. It is time to hold elected officials accountable and demand safer streets. How many people must die before city and county officials act? How many kids must die before more speed bumps are placed around parks and schools?

We have a sizeable elderly contingent in Claremont. And according to Los Angeles Walks, by 2030, LA’s over 65 population is expected to nearly double, from 1.1 million to 2.1 million. And just like national statistics show, seniors in Los Angeles are overrepresented in fatal and serious pedestrian crash data.

Is it safe for the elderly to walk in Claremont? I suppose it depends where.

One thing is for sure: Every time any of us goes near any roadway, we’re in danger whether we know it or not. Walking, running, or driving, we’re rolling the dice. As parents, we must think twice before allowing our kids to walk home or ride bicycles to and from school these days.

Ian Barwise is a retired Marine, a cybersecurity engineer, the father of three school-aged children, and a seven year resident of Claremont.



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