National news continues to cover the tragic death of four local men killed in the Doral parking garage collapse. International news, Twitter and the campaign trails of both Presidential candidates keep returning to the tragic killing of four Americans in Benghazi.
Where is the outcry over continuous deaths of men, women and children who die on Miami roads all the time?
In just the last few days, at least 5 people have lost their lives on Miami’s roads and sidewalks. Speed has been blamed in all three incidents:
A police officer in an unmarked car crashed into a young couple’s SUV at a Hialeah intersection, killing a college student.
A driver cut off another in Miami Gardens, clipping a third car and careening into a group of people sitting at a bus stop, killing at least one of the 5 maimed or otherwise critically injured by the speeding driver.
A third speeding driver killed his passenger as well as a boy and his father in a separate vehicle on Saturday morning.
Five people killed in Miami in three days. Where is the outcry?
A 29 year old man, also waiting for a bus, was killed by a man trying escape the scene of a separate, relatively minor rear-end collision in West Miami. This actually happened two weeks ago but apparently made news when The Miami Herald determined the driver was an icon of Miami’s culinary scene. No charges - not a traffic ticket - have been filed for leaving the scene or killing a pedestrian on a sidewalk in that case.
These are not “accidents.” These are not “cars” killing our neighbors, our friends, innocent people. This is a culture, particular to South Florida, that makes it unsurprising to be passed dangerously close by a car, often an off-duty* police car, on all kinds of streets. Here in South Florida, we don’t expect cars to stop before the crosswalk at intersections - pedestrians are lucky when all the cars stop on the red light. Do you disagree?
The lack of truly pedestrian and bicycle-friendly infrastructure is part of the problem. The fact that our streets are notoriously Dangerous by Design is another critical part. But the piece most easy to dismiss is just as important- enforcement.
The City of Miami Police Department employs around 1,400 people. 17 of them are in Traffic Enforcement. Given the City and County’s exceptional fatality rate in traffic, isn’t about time we do more to enforce our laws?
Who Wants More Traffic Tickets?
Not the Police. No one wants more traffic tickets, your local police department, most of all. See, several years ago, Florida state legislators got ‘tough’ on traffic-related crimes, raising the fines for all kinds of infractions. Unfortunately for our safety as a state, this backfired, because your local cops already have it hard when it comes to giving tickets. 1) It’s more dangerous than Special Ops and far less sexy. No one’s family wants them to be the guy pulling over Joe with a gun.** 2) Police are average people, too. They don’t really enjoy hearing your sob story about how this $250 ticket will keep you from making rent and make your kids homeless. 3) Okay, maybe one or two don’t mind that part, but they hate going to court only to have a Judge fall for said sob story and throw out the case.
Not Politicians. So, Dr. So-and-so gets a ticket, gets upset, calls our Commissioner and threatens all kinds of drama. It’s a hassle. Plus, there aren’t statistics on how many people were not stopped by an officer and then immediately killed someone’s child or dog (that really would get on the news!). In other words, it doesn’t win sound bites or votes.
Not the Public. Most people seem to think traffic tickets are just some excuse for your local politicians and police to make easy money. It’s not ‘easy’ money**.
And yet, hardly anyone speeds in the Village of Pinecrest! That’s not because the lanes are narrower (no) or because there are fewer texting-calling-children wrangling-pompous drivers (no). It’s because everyone knows you’ll get a ticket. New to the area? Everyone else is abiding the law so chances are, you will, too.
If you really want to live in a safer place, where businesses benefit from local traffic and your neighbors and tourists don’t get killed waiting for the bus, then all of us need to drive more safely, follow the speed limit, put down the phone. Always change lanes to give those pulled over a full lane of space. Do the same for people on bicycles, too.
Call your commissioners and PDs and tell them you WANT more traffic enforcement. Do it today. Call 311, give them your address and they can tell you how to reach your elected officials. Do it.
Because your life depends on it.
*You know they are off duty when the car says Bal Harbour and you are on I-95, for example.
**In the last decade, nationwide, more police were killed in cars or by cars than were shot or killed by terrorist attacks, combined.
Hey, at least we’re not Texas!
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