CARMEN GONZALEZ CALDWELL
At nearly every Neighborhood Watch meeting we attend, one of the first concerns deals with speeders in the neighborhoods.
So police units with radar are placed in the neighborhood to see how severe the issue is and to offer relief by enforcement. Residents are always grateful until one of them gets a ticket for speeding and wants the police out of the neighborhood.
Joel Mesa, our education director, submitted the following information about speeding and crashes for me to share with you.
Trying to persuade drivers to slow down is a challenging task.
We all know the dreadful effects that speeding has in severe motor-vehicle crashes, and we all take it in consideration not to ``zoom it up'' in our driving. Well, not everybody. Many drivers think speeding is normal.
Because a plethora of neighboring drivers are speeding in their streets and highways, it should be justifiably right for them to also follow the speeding crowd. The generalization becomes a ``cop out'' factor to them that speeding is a driving norm.
Here are some valid factors on the dangers of the ``zoom zoom zoom'' mentality that drivers should consider before making generalizations:
• Speeding is one of the most prevalent factors contributing to traffic crashes.
• Speeding reduces a driver's ability to steer safely around curves or objects in the road, extends the distance necessary to stop a vehicle, and increases the distance a vehicle travels while the driver reacts to a dangerous situation.
• In 2008, speeding was a contributing factor in 31 percent of all fatal crashes, and 11,674 lives were lost in speeding-related crashes.
• The economic cost to society of speeding-related crashes is estimated to be $40.4 billion per year. That is $76,865 per minute or $1,281 per second.
Many drivers will be a bit startled by the above facts. They begin to ``slow it down'' in their driving for a while, and then gradually get back into their old habits. It isn't that they want to be malicious and invoke the speeding dangers on our roads, streets and highways. A key factor why many are not able to sustain driving at moderate speeds is because they observe the driving behavior in their environment way too often. It becomes a contagious factor for them to subconsciously rationalize ``If you can't beat them, join them.'' The alternative to this is we can make a difference by operating motor vehicles at moderate speeds in a collaborative manner so ``speeding'' is not primarily observed in our communities.
It is a challenging task in trying to persuade drivers to ``bring down that MPH'' in their driving. However, it is still a reachable goal. We can all put in our collaborative efforts to educate our community on the dangers and ramifications of speeding. So lets all one by one heed these warnings and make our neighborhoods a safe place for all.
Carmen Caldwell is executive director of the Citizens' Crime Watch of Miami-Dade. Send feedback and news for this column to her at email@example.com, or call her, 305-470-1670.