Monday, November 18, 2019

World Day of Remembrance for Traffic Victims - San Jose

At the World Day of Remembrance for Traffic Victims - Nov. 17, 2019, San Jose
I watch early morning news programs and I get annoyed at the traffic reporters quite easily. 

There's always a creative little icon to indicate a car crash and a red colored line to indicate...the traffic. 

The delay the crash means to you, the viewer watching. Who just wants to know the fastest way to drive to work - as if that is the most important thing about the report. 

The World Day of Remembrance for Traffic Victims is one of the few times - unless someone you know personally has been killed or permanently maimed in a car crash - when you can look at a single car crash in the proper context. As in: a person who had a life, who had friends, who had hobbies and interests like your and mine, is dead because someone made a bad decision while driving.

I came upon the scene of this crash on a bike a few days ago on Monterey Road in San Jose: one car stopped and others, going too fast, crashed since none could stop in time. Seven cars were involved. 

The #WDoR19 was organized by San Francisco Bay Area Families for Safe Streets, Walk San Jose, California Walks, and The city's Vision Zero team was there, and a representative from Assemblymember Ash Kalra's office was also among the speakers.

The memorial walk had about 100 participants and went from St. James Park to City Hall. For some reason the meeting point where the speeches were took place behind city hall rather than in front (where it would have had more motorists and passers-by to seet it. 

Some family members of victims bravely got in front of the crowd of over 100 to speak. I heard people hold back tears and watched a few turn away to dab their eyes. I saw a little girl holding a sign that read "A Drunk Driver Killed My Big Sister" and saw familiar faces from the #BobbyWouldGo ride I went on last summer to honor Bob Lavin - a man who made it through 43 years of marriage and became a grandfather to three kids only to be the victim of a hit-and-run at age 62.

I learned of a little kid who died in his stroller in a crosswalk because a truck driver wasn't paying attention while turning.  And I learned enough about one of the victims to feel a little bit like Scrooge must have felt when he brushed the snow off the tombstone at the end of 'A Christmas Carol.'

Over 3,200 people are killed in California every year because of car crashes. Here's two. 

The organizers of the event also made these bright yellow signs showing the age and gave some details for the bicycle user or pedestrian who was killed. 

One of the details was the location where the person had been struck. 

Four years of living in San Jose and I recognized all of the street names and even remember some of the exact locations.

I stayed for all of the speeches and didn't feel like making much conversation with some of my friends who were there - mostly because the whole time I felt like I was learning about friends I'd never get to make. 

I rode all the way home from City Hall - taking the long way and topping it out over 13 miles. 

I'm telling you this for two reasons - first off I want you to know that every decision you make while driving matters and secondly I want you to drive slower and tell your friends to do the same. Get in the faces of people who need to know this - and start dreaming up definitive action, legislation and street design to make roads safer. And look at traffic reports differently and drive as though you need to save other people's lives instead of your own personal seconds. Thanks for reading and thanks for driving slow.

Drive slower and less often.


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