OPINION: Bird Rock crash serves as a wake-up call to residents

By Joe Parker

President, Bird Rock Community Council

Life is precious. The tragic accident on La Jolla Boulevard last month demonstrates that lives can change in the flash of a moment. This latest incident, which reportedly involved an impaired driver, also highlights the fact that traffic safety continues to be a serious and important issue requiring the community’s attention.

I’m angered by the incident and its apparent cause, and I wish the best for the injured children and adults, as well as the owners of the restaurant involved in the collision. I’m also grateful for the community’s quick response to support the families involved.

That said, I expected the sobering effect of this terrible accident would cause our residents to think twice about their driving habits not only on the Boulevard, but on our neighborhood streets and alleys. Not so. Less than 24 hours after the accident, it was back to business as usual in Bird Rock. On the day following the accident, I observed no less than a dozen residents over a period of 20 minutes speeding through our streets, running stop signs and entering blind curves with wild abandon, all with no apparent concern for the safety of others. I thought it was an anomaly, so later that evening I went for a walk with my wife and family. It wasn’t.

Three times we were accosted by speeding drivers apparently irritated that there was no sidewalk for us to negotiate while we shared the narrow street. And, after we did reach a sidewalk, another resident blew through a four-way stop sign, rushing over the same pavement that we had just been standing on less than two seconds before. Had I been a bit slower, I doubt I would be capable of writing this article. The week continued and so did the same behavior, which I witness over and over again.

Eight months ago, I published an article in the La Jolla Light addressing my concerns. I pleaded with residents (and many parents) to take a moment out of their busy lives to slow down and observe basic traffic rules. My sentiments were echoed by many, but unfortunately, the reactions of people were few.

One more thing. The driver who caused the accident was reportedly a transient, with a history of DUI’s and suspended license convictions and was allegedly staying in Bird Rock. One of the parents of the injured children raised the issue that the criminal side of vagrancy is on the rise in La Jolla. He’s right. You can do your part by continuing to report criminal activity to the police and being aware of who belongs in your neighborhood and who does not. You can also support the criminal proceedings to prevent this from happening again.

I appreciate those of you who get it. Now let’s work on the others. If you share the same concerns I do, take the time to heighten the awareness. In short, help us help ourselves before we have another accident.