What Will it Take to Slow Reckless Driving?

By now we’ve all heard of the horrific car accident t in the Windsor Hills section of Los Angeles. What we know is a woman named Nicole Linton ran a red light at a busy intersection with devastating consequences. Six people, including a pregnant woman, her boyfriend and her one-year-old son were killed in the crash. At least 8 people were injured.

George Gascón, the Los Angeles County District Attorney, stated there was no evidence Linton was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the crash. So, if she wasn’t impaired and her car was mechanically sound, what caused this senseless crash? All signs point to reckless driving. Whether due to road rage, mental health problems, speeding or aggressive driving, reckless driving is on the rise.

The intersection where this accident occurred is no stranger to traffic collisions injuries and deaths. There are reports of at least 29 accidents there over the last 10 years. Pedestrians attempting to cross its six lanes of traffic have also been killed. One big issue is that drivers coming south from La Brea Avenue travel down a steep hill where they can quickly pick up speed before reaching Slauson Avenue. There are also no speed bumps or lights for at least a mile along this stretch of road. Even worse, if a driver puts their foot on the gas, as Linton apparently did, they can easily reach 90-100 miles per hour before reaching the traffic light she blew through.

The reckless driving problem was made worse by the allure of empty streets during the COVID lockdowns in 2020. Since then, things have gotten worse. Just about every Los Angeles neighborhood has a problem with out-of-control drivers now. Police enforcement hasn’t helped since offending drivers suffer little to no consequences. A glaring example of this was the lax sentence for Brendan Khuri, who was traveling over 100 mph on Olympic Blvd. in his Lamborghini SUV when his vehicle collided with and killed Michelle Muñoz’ in February of 2021. His sentence for taking a life was house arrest, nine months in juvenile detention and four years of probation.  

The glorification of speeding in movies and even TV commercials doesn’t help either. And social media allow illegal street takeovers to happen quickly before law enforcement can act to stop them. According to Juan Dominguez of The Dominguez Firm, “Seeing cases where children or the elderly are seriously injured or killed due to street racing is particularly senseless and heartbreaking. Zero tolerance policies toward this behavior are long overdue.”

Do you remember all the fanfare when LA Mayor Eric Garcetti unveiled his Vision Zero plan in 2015 to end all traffic accident deaths within 10 years? It seems the LA City government doesn’t since the website is no more. This is a fitting metaphor for our elected officials’ inaction when it comes to doing anything about reckless driving. Instead of approaching zero deaths by 2025, it appears we’re moving in the opposite direction; more traffic accident deaths in each succeeding year. It’s time to take action and start reversing this trend now for the safety of all of us.