Our View: Slow down, be safe in 2017

Santa Clarita Valley sheriff's deputies secure the area around a body on Sierra Highway after a vehicle fatally struck a pedestrian Monday evening. Austin Dave/The Signal

Whether you’re on foot or in a car, slow down.

Look left and right before entering the road. Activate your turn signal or for God’s sake use the crosswalk. It’s deadly out there.

Following nearly two years of reporting fatal vehicle-vs.-pedestrian traffic collisions on Santa Clarita Valley streets – starting at least with 17-year-old high school senior Jennifer Stift killed in Saugus in August 2014 – we at The Signal are saddened that our parting message for 2016 begs to be the same refrain as 2014’s: Slow down, pay attention, be careful out there.

Two people were hit by cars just this week on Sierra Highway in Canyon Country. One, 15-year-old Desiree Renee Lawson, was on Sierra Highway just south of Soledad Canyon Road when she was hit Monday evening. She died of her injuries.

Lawson was not in a crosswalk.

The second pedestrian survived injuries when hit on Sierra near Via Princessa – also not in a crosswalk, and also after dark.

In April this year The Signal documented 10 pedestrian fatalities on Santa Clarita Valley streets or freeways within the previous 20 months’ time – eight of the 10 involving pedestrians who failed to use crosswalks, and the same eight of 10 after nightfall.

The year 2016 has seen eight pedestrians hit by vehicles on Sierra Highway alone, most resulting in death.

We point out how tearfully unavoidable this all is. Motorists need to slow down; our readers often comment on how fast people drive in this valley.

California motorists, the Vehicle Code cautions, bear the “duty to exercise due care for the safety of any pedestrian upon a roadway.”

And while the same book of road rules gives pedestrians the right-of-way within crosswalks, it also notes it “does not relieve a pedestrian from the duty of using due care for his or her safety.”

Sierra Highway at both Soledad Canyon Road and Via Princessa have clearly marked crosswalks on each side of the intersection with signals directing when pedestrians should walk or stop.

Nothing across Sierra Highway – or any other road – is worth risking your life for, and the pedestrian ignoring clearly marked crosswalks is not “using due care for his or her safety.”

Pedestrians, slow down and walk those extra steps to the crosswalk, no matter what road you want to cross.

North of Soledad, Sierra Highway has plenty of places where it’s just not safe to cross the street. We would urge law enforcement patrolling that area to enforce the speed limit. Let hurried motorists know Sierra is no longer a wide-open country highway.

And for those gifted with children at home, we gently remind you that you are your child’s first and most influential teacher. Be a good role model. Always use the crosswalk, and teach your child that it’s worth it to slow down and walk those extra steps.

May you have a safe, happy and unhurried New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. And may we all survive Santa Clarita Valley streets and highways in 2017 to ring in the new year in 2018.


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