Dear Decaturish – To Decatur’s officials: No more death on our roadsPhoto provided to Decaturish
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Sunday, Nov. 19, is the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims, and the city of Decatur has no lack of people to remember. On just one day in November, four walkers were hit by drivers within city limits, one of whom was killed. Even crossing guards aren’t safe. One was struck in September while doing his job in a crosswalk. Another was struck in 2019.
Such incidents are a sign that immediate action is needed to protect people from automobile violence.
Decatur’s city officials have not been idle. They’ve been building better sidewalks and bike paths. They’ve implemented traffic-calming structures. They’ve installed some improved crosswalks, such as the exemplary one in front of the courthouse on E Ponce De Leon Avenue.
These projects have made the city safer, and our officials should continue such efforts. Crosswalks should be raised. Lanes should be narrowed. Mid-street crossings should be added. Every major street and intersection should be reconsidered from the perspective of vulnerable users. This is especially true for the city’s most dangerous arterials, such as South Candler Street, College Ave, Scott Blvd, Commerce Drive, and Clairemont Road.
But this will take time. In the meantime, city officials must treat traffic violence as an urgent priority, taking immediate action. It is no secret that traffic enforcement in Decatur – and in the Atlanta region in general – is minimal. Speeding, driving under the influence, running stop signs, driving with phone in hands, refusing to yield to pedestrians, tailgating – spend just a few minutes on any major street and you’ll witness incidences of such behavior multiple times. Our streets have become wild places where drivers know they can break the law with impunity.
City officials must step up enforcement. They’ve already begun the process of installing automatic speed cameras, a measure demonstrated to decrease speeds and increase safety. At present, Georgia law only allows speed cameras in school zones, but the city should move aggressively, ensuring that every possible opportunity is seized to install automatic speed cameras.
City officials should also immediately begin planning to install red light cameras at all the city’s most dangerous intersections, especially those where people have been killed, such as East College and South Candler, Midway and South Candler, Scott and Clairemont, and Commerce and E College. Such cameras are allowed under the Georgia legal code, and they work. Studies show that traffic cameras mounted at intersections dramatically reduce violations, crashes, and injuries. Such a camera might have saved the life of the 16-year-old boy who was killed at the intersection of Commerce Drive and College Avenue on Nov. 6, 2023.
City officials must also invest in improved police enforcement. The police department should implement regular DUI checkpoints. It should conduct consistent red-light and stop-sign enforcement. It should carry out spot checks for cell phone use while driving and failure to yield at crosswalks. It should pull over drivers exceeding the speed limit on arterials. Although Georgia’s dangerous legal code prevents officers from using radar data in court unless the driver has been clocked exceeding the posted limit by ten miles per hour, there’s nothing preventing the department from issuing warnings.
Our police have dedicated their careers to protecting citizens. By stepping up enforcement, they will save lives. City officials should immediately provide directives and resources so they can dramatically increase traffic enforcement.
As we mark the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims, let it be more than a day of memory; let it be a catalyst for change. The tragedies experienced in Decatur and across the nation should impel our city and state leaders to act urgently, immediately, and decisively. No more deaths. It’s time to make our streets safe.
JOIN AN ACTION
The safe streets organization Calm Decatur is holding an event to commemorate the victims of traffic violence in Decatur. It will take place this Sunday, 19 November, 2023, at the intersection of South Candler Street and College Avenue, a place where numerous crashes have taken place. For more information, clock over to the Calm Decatur Facebook Page.
— Tonio Andrade, April Biagioni, Sandro Gisler, Patricia Liscio, and Laura Spriggs
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