22 Aug 2014
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Laguna Niguel Streets: Residents vs. Cars

The past month has seen two major crashes in town. One claimed the life of a 20-year-old resident and the other left a woman with head trauma and a severed leg.

Growing up in Michigan, I spent a good portion of my life fighting Mother Nature -- rain, sleet and snow. Now, as a 20-year Laguna Niguel resident, I find myself fighting something even bigger: local drivers. 

At one point, I thought nothing could be worse than shoveling 12 feet of snow from my windshield or having to wait to get out of the driveway because the snow piles were taller than buildings.

While I like living in a warm climate, enjoy being close to the beaches and blue ocean, I am scared of driving the streets in our city.

In less than a month, we have seen two gruesome car crashes: one involved a 20-year-old man who lost his life after a car struck him while he rode a skateboard. It was a weekday around 4 a.m., and it happened on one of the busiest streets we have, Golden Lantern. Authorities still haven’t found the man who was driving the Nissan Maxima that robbed Carlos Salas of his life.

The other accident happened Monday and involved a woman who was merely walking across the street -- in a crosswalk. A car struck her near Moulton Parkway and Aliso Niguel. She not only suffered head trauma, but a severed leg. Mariam Hedayati remains hospitalized in what I am told, through a confidante, is an induced coma. She has multiple fractures and broken bones; it has not been made clear if she lost her leg. 

I know many of her friends continue to mourn her death and tell me they miss her every day.

She was trying to take a dog home after it was roaming in the street. She had it corralled along the curb a few short blocks from her home before tragedy struck. 

Every day when I am out and about, I am amazed by the way people speed up and down our streets with no fear. They weave, they tailgate, they have road rage. Young and old alike, I’m not singling out anyone. 

I see drivers texting, talking on the phone, speeding .... and for what? To get someplace 10 minutes faster? Answering a call or texting can wait.

I wanted to know if we had a lot of red light runners here. This is what he said: 

"Our stats in the city for collisions from running a red light are very low," he said. "These are very infrequent situations and if we do see an increase, we assess the collisions and intersections to see if there is something we could do differently to reduce the number of collisions. For the past year, there are not any traffic lights at intersections that would warrant us to reassess them."

I would imagine the families of those listed above would beg to differ. 

As longtime reader Leonard Kinkaide asked: "How many is that since Mara Steves' death in 2011? How many more citizens of Laguna Niguel will be injured or killed until state traffic laws are enforced? If the Sheriff's Department can't solve this problem, maybe it's time to ask the CHP to do traffic in our city. How many more crashes and fatalities before changes are made?"

We need to take notice of what’s really going on here and remember: Life is too short, slow down.

What about you? What do you think? Tell us in comments.

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