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How safe are the streets of Valencia?

Posted: May 7, 2008 3:09 a.m.
Updated: July 8, 2008 5:02 a.m.
 
I read with concerned interest the article by Signal staff writer Stephen K. Peeples entitled "Timing is
everything for traffic control" (Nov. 23, 2007).

What particularly focused my interest was the allusion that traffic cameras were having some consequence on changing people's driving behavior. The gauge referenced in the article was the decrease in the
number of citations issued by the Sheriff's Department.

The real story of peoples' driving behavior is not traffic control. It is the lack of emphasis given to reckless driving in Valencia and the acceptance of this that causes this custom to now come before the law.

Let me now acquaint you with a prime example.

I have come to learn from public records that you have amongst your citizens a dangerous driver who had no driving license for a number of years, had been cited for a DUI, cited for numerous traffic violations
including speeding and driving while his license was suspended, numerous notices to appear in court, driving for an extended period without car insurance, and traffic accidents. Also, he had been arrested for
drug possession and sales.

The mind-blowing aspect is the consent given to allow his continued driving as he awaited arraignment or even after.

This approval resulted in an accident occurring on the evening of Sept. 13, 2007, at the intersection of
Orchard Village Road and Wiley Canyon Road. A vehicle collision required a young man to be cut free of the vehicle he was driving. This very talented young man later died from the injuries he received in this
collision.

What is sad about his death was it could have been avoided if both the community's enforcement arm and
its local administrators had administered the law.

Again, approval to drive was demonstrated when at the accident scene there was not an immediate suspension of his driving license because of no car insurance.

The guilty driver has been charged with a simple misdemeanor, but given the established past he will no
doubt be back on the streets again; take heed, drivers of Valencia.

During the time before this young man's death all those who attended him - nurses, doctors, his friends,
his former teachers at CalArts, his colleagues and of course his family - were amazed that there was not a
word of mentioned in The Signal of this collision and also when the guilty driver was charged again no
mention of the proceedings in The Signal.

Where is the community chorus of disapproval? Is careless driving on the streets of Valencia common and
somehow rewarded, and is this by and large the established view of the citizens and therefore of no
news value to report?

I am astonished that the guilty driver would have been allowed to continue driving, when you consider
that each traffic stop is evaluated by the deputy and a citation may or may not be issued. Usually a check
of your past driving history coupled with the seriousness of the violation will help the deputy determine if a citation is warranted. In the case of driving without car insurance, is there an expressed laissez-faire attitude by the DA's office regarding the lack of car insurance? And is this interpreted by the deputy on the scene to mean no action is needed?

The Santa Clarita Valley Traffic Unit is tasked with decreasing the number of collisions through enforcement of the California Vehicle Code. To do this effectively they need the support of the DA's office
and oversight by a plugged-in community. Our driving safety in part depends on the deputy performing his or her job, and the person needs our support.

Maybe there is more to traffic safety in Valencia than meets the eye. Maybe the LASD doesn't always do the best possible investigation and the collision reports are something less than perfect and the measure of proof is not always apparent, but has the DA gone looking for the proof? Is the community holding their
collective feet to the flames, so to speak?

How can it be said that going 65-70 mph on a surface street through a red light at night does not create a
high risk of great bodily injury? Even the most seasoned NASCAR driver would shy away from that situation and be tempted to at least tap the brakes.

If I was living and driving the streets in Valencia, I would be worried.

The young victim spent days in a coma, and his friends would go to the hospital day after day, night after
night, waiting for him to wake up. They would touch him, hold his hand, talk to him, watch his girlfriend
cuddle him, and debate - Did he move? Did his eyelid twitch? Did he seem to be struggling to respond to
her? - only to hear the doctors tell them that he was a 3 on the Glasgow Coma Scale and would never recover and would probably never wake up.

These young kids, who had never been up close with death, stood witness with each other and their
friend's family as their friend drew his last breaths at noon on Sept. 28, 2007.

Some of this young man's friends say he was murdered.

They see a guy on the TV news who is charged with murder when one of the passengers in a car he was
racing is killed in an accident. The passenger was a willing participant - not even an innocent victim like
this young man.

Yes, I am that young man's father.

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