While it might not be listed on the death certificate as a cause of death, it's pretty clear with the latest figures just released from the LAPD that a direct side-effect of COVID-19 is more people are dying in traffic collisions. Now, just to be clear, this is not some new scientific article or conspiracy theory, rather the spike in traffic fatalities is a byproduct of the lockdown and our efforts to prevent the wholesale spread of the novel coronavirus.
It's an ironic tragedy that the lockdown, with far less drivers on the road, has resulted in a significant drop in traffic collisions (35% down compared to this time last year) and a spike in traffic fatalities (15% increase compared to this time last year).
Why the spike? Well, it's pretty clear that with open roads, a few criminal drivers are speeding, distracted driving or driving recklessly on the open streets and losing control. Note: the word criminal is used intentionally here as that's what I feel about drivers who drive distracted, drunk or speed and endanger the lives of others. A majority of those killed in the last month were people walking or crossing the street, not cyclists.
DOING SOMETHING ABOUT IT
Since SAFE has an existing partnership with the City of Los Angeles, especially LADOT and the LAPD, D/Chief Blake Chow called up SAFE and asked us to help on the first step -- raising an alarm on the traffic death situation in the media. We worked together to get out dual press releases about the situation and then joined LAPD at a press conference with a full house of reporters covering it.
SAFE and the LAPD were also joined by representatives from the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC) and Los Angeles Walks in front of the cameras. All spoke about the need for drivers to be more aware, slow down and not drive distracted - in other words, be responsible while driving. The point of the press conference was summed up with these words:
"Right now, we're all practicing safer at home and safer at work. I don't understand why we're not also practicing safer on the streets."
Check out the ABC 7 piece on this action
WE'RE NOT STOPPING THERE
SAFE, along with other partnering non-profits such as LACBC, Los Angeles Walks and Santa Monica Spoke, will be taking further steps with the City of Los Angeles and other cities across LA County to implement changes to help make things safer, not only during this lockdown, but into the future. We are using this moment to galvanize change and are excited about what we are collectively about to launch. Stay tuned...