Strangers Doing the Right Thing is the Neighborly Thing to Do

Call me old-fashioned but I’m the type of person who believes in doing the right thing. It is a philosophy that flows through the way I conduct my life, including my teaching.

So it never ceases to boggle my mind when others don’t do the right thing.

Take, for example, the suspected driver of the car who killed the four-year-old girl in Glendale last week. No one can fathom the depth of that family’s grief. And no one can fathom what goes on in the mind of a driver who upon hitting another human being decides the best action to take is to flee the scene.

One can debate whether the driver or the girl was at fault. One cannot debate, however, about the one indisputable fact—the driver did not stop.

It goes beyond cowardice. How can a person treat another person like that? What kind of people are amongst us?

It was amazing that the individual turned himself in . . . the next day. All the more remarkable considering that the majority of hit and run drivers never get caught.

Based on an internal LAPD memo last fall that Channel 4 News obtained, “nearly four out of every five hit-and-run cases are never solved” with arrests made in “less than 20 percent of the 20,000 hit and run cases that get reported each year.” So, 54 hit-and-run events occur each day in Los Angeles. That is a lot of people who are menaces to society while driving around in 2-ton vehicles.

A few weeks ago the Florida Supreme Court ruled that hit-and-run drivers can’t be prosecuted if they have no knowledge that they were in an accident. Yes, read that sentence again. The case involved a 15-year-old skateboarder who was dragged 90 feet by a truck and whose board was cut in two with witnesses observing the truck going up and down over it. Yet the driver had no clue what had happened.

Glendale is ranked 194th out of the 200 largest U.S. cities in terms of safe driving in the 2014 Allstate Best Drivers Report where there is a 72% chance of a driver being involved in an accident.

Hitting walkers is not just an L.A. thing. Pedestrian incidents have gotten so out of control in Chicago averaging 3,000 a year, 30 of them fatal, that hundreds of signs were posted actually using drawings as to what drivers need to do when encountering them—stop—and we’re talking about marked crosswalks. Wow, do we really need to have a sign to remind drivers to stop for those walking? Evidently since over 250 of the nearly 350 signs costing $500 apiece were damaged by cars.

Another kind of do-they-really-need-to-spell-it-out signs can be viewed on Kenneth Road in Glendale where an electronic message board flashes a reminder that bicyclists need to obey all traffic rules. Unfortunately, such a memo needs displaying. Think about how many times you have actually noticed a bicyclist slow down (forget about stopping) at a 4-way or signaled stop. It occurs so rarely that when I actually see it I feel like high-fiving the rider if only he would slow down long enough.

It used to be “share the road” meant that drivers should take caution when passing bicyclists. However, the new slogan should read “share the road rules” for so many cyclists seem hell bent on never stopping while on a bike.

Pedestrians, bicyclists, drivers make up the traffic mix that we all traverse. When my son passed his behind-the-wheel driving test last week, I felt like celebrating his achievement until I realized what jungle he will have to survive in as a solo driver.

As a community, we depend on all of us to obey the laws. When just a small number don’t, all of us get impacted. And when accidents happen, we count on adults doing the right thing.

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