By Councilmember Bob Kellar
Safety on the roads is one of the top priorities for your Santa Clarita City Council. Whether it is by ensuring we have protected turn lanes at busy intersections or secure walkways for pedestrians at bridge crossings, we are constantly working to make sure our streets are safe for everyone. In my years as a police officer, and now with the City Council, I have seen way too many auto accidents caused by unsafe driving, including speeding, distracted driving and driving under the influence. This is why I am pleased to introduce the City’s Heads Up campaign, a new addition to the successful Drive, Focus, Live initiative.
Over the years we have seen success in reducing the number of collisions and injuries on roads in Santa Clarita. As our population has continued to grow, the City’s collision rate has been in steady decline, and the collision injury rate remains well below the average in California. However, we still have far too many car accidents on our streets resulting in injuries and fatalities that are entirely preventable. Recent tragic events have opened all of our eyes once more to the fact that traffic safety is a responsibility we all share. It is necessary for us to come together as a community and educate one another so that collisions continue to trend downward.
City staff, in collaboration with the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Traffic Division, has crafted a new, comprehensive Traffic Safety Plan for Santa Clarita. The new Heads Up campaign addresses both drivers and pedestrians, because we are all responsible for road safety.
In the coming weeks, you will start to see advertisements and signage pop up around town featuring four central messages that I encourage you and your family – teenagers in particular – to talk about together:
See and Be Seen – Pedestrians should always assume that there is a car planning to turn through a crosswalk in front of them. Take time to make eye contact with waiting drivers and cross the street only when you can confidently do so. Be sure to wait at crosswalks that are not protected by stoplights until it is safe to cross.
Use the Crosswalk – Simply put, never jaywalk. Many pedestrian accidents occur when folks try to run across the street rather than taking the time to safely use a crosswalk. Saving a few seconds is not worth the risk of losing your life.
Expect People in Crosswalks – Drivers should always check twice, then check again, for pedestrians before making a turn. Take special caution in school zones and anywhere children may be active as well.
Disconnect from Distractions – Using a cellphone when driving is illegal in California, and our Sheriffs do an excellent job of enforcing that law. Not only is it illegal to use a phone, it can be potentially life threatening. Put away any and all distractions before you start the car. Texts and calls can wait until you reach your destination.
These messages will be pushed out through conventional methods, via social media and traditional media outlets, but you will also see info on Heads Up around town. Signage will be placed on banners, at crosswalks, on curbs and other physical locations so people will be reminded to keep their head up before they step out into the street.
I hope you’ll take the time to learn more about Heads Up and the positive effects campaigns like this have already had on our community. You can read about Heads Up and the broader Drive, Focus, Live Initiative by visiting our website at Santa-Clarita.com/HeadsUp.
Bob Kellar is a member of the Santa Clarita City Council and can be reached at [email protected].