Speeding on Local Streets: Enough is Enough

Glendale Mayor Dan Brotman, standing in front of GUSD board president Jennifer Freemon, GPD chief Manuel Cid, Assemblymember Laura Friedman and GUSD board member Shant Sahakian, speaks on the sad reality that “speed kills.”
Photo by Mary O’KEEFE


There has been a lot of talk about keeping kids safe in schools but safely getting them there is also very important. That was the subject focused on by Assemblymember Laura Friedman and stakeholders during a press conference on Monday held at Toll Middle School in Glendale.

Speeding accounts for nearly a third of all traffic fatalities. Over 42,000 Americans lost their lives to traffic violence in 2021 – a 10.5% increase from 2020. Speeding is a factor in 31% of all traffic fatalities, according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

The braking distance ­­– the distance a vehicle will travel from the point when its brakes are fully applied to when it comes to a complete stop increases four times each time the starting speed doubles. So from 30 mph to 60 mph the braking distance does not become twice as long but four times as long. When drivers triple their speed from 20 mph to 60 mph, the braking distance is nine times greater.

According to the Federal Highway Administration, speed cameras can reduce by 54% crashes on urban streets and that is where bill AB 645 comes in. It is a speed safety pilot program and six cities have been proposed to participate in it including Glendale, Los Angeles, Long Beach, San Jose, Oakland and San Francisco. The bill was last amended in the California Senate and was re-referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.

“We chose this location [because] a few years ago unfortunately and tragically a child was killed in front of these schools,” Friedman said. “We have far too many deaths happening across the roads in California – not just a few years ago but every day – and those deaths have been skyrocketing.”

She added there has also been an increase in pedestrian and cyclist deaths across the state.

“We have seen an increase in street racing and reckless driving and people driving with a wanton disregard for safety and life … I hear about it all the time, I hear about it from my constituents. They can’t believe how aggressively people are driving. [It’s] as if they are taking all their frustration out on the road around them,” she said.

“Speeding kills – we’ve known that for a long time,” said Glendale Mayor Dan Brotman, who was a speaker at the press conference. “According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration a person struck by a vehicle going 20 miles per hour has a 5% chance of dying. That number goes up to 40% for vehicles going 30 miles per hour, and 80% for people [driving] 40 miles per hour.”

Brotman, who is well known as a cyclist, travels the streets on his bike and knows the dangers that cyclists and pedestrians face on a daily basis. Even for the most aware cyclist a speeding car is an issue.

Damian Kevitt knows those dangers all too well; he also spoke in favor of AB 645.

“In February 2013 a few miles away from here [in Griffith Park] I was hit and pinned under a car and dragged nearly a quarter of a mile on the streets and onto and down the 5 Freeway at freeway speeds. My right leg was ripped off [as was] about 20 pounds of flesh in two minutes. So I speak from experience when I say that our roads are a public health crisis and enough is enough. We need to make our roads safer for our kids and we need to make our roads safer for our elderly, our low income individuals – for all of us,” he said.

Glendale Police Dept. Chief Manuel Cid said that this pilot program would not only help law enforcement but also would provide “invaluable insights” that could be used for future traffic engineering.

“Unfortunately we find ourselves at a critical juncture in many of our communities as we are experiencing, as the Assemblymember touched on, increases in the amount of traffic and pedestrian accidents, injuries and fatalities. We consistently are witnessing dangerous driving habits including vehicle racing and side show takeovers,” Cid said. (Side show takeovers are streets that are shut down, often by hundreds of spectators, as drivers perform illegal and dangerous stunts.)

Friedman has been working on AB 645 for four years. It has been amended and reviewed and amended again. She and her colleagues created the pilot program to target the most dangerous areas of traffic incidents, like in front of schools.

“Everyone hated the red light program,” she said. That was a program in which cameras were placed on signal light poles and took photos of people who drove through red lights; however, it did not always work as planned.

“We designed this bill with an eye toward fixing everything that was wrong with the red light camera program. It is not a punitive program; you have to be going more than 11 miles per hour over the speed limit. You have to be warned before you come into the area that has a camera because – again – we want you to slow down,” she said.

The violations will be handled differently from most speeding tickets. The first time drivers are in violation they will receive a warning ticket; the second time there will be a citation of $50 that will slightly increase with every 10 miles traveled over the speed limit. There will not be points added to people’s driving records because this program has cameras that do not make facial recognition but read license plates instead.

The funds raised through the issuance of tickets will be designated toward implementing the program. Cities will be required to improve the areas where tickets are given or lose the cameras altogether.

With all of the talk of why it was important to do something to prevent speeding it came down to the personal testimonies of Kevitt and Cindi Enamorado.

Enamorado spoke of the impact speeding has on a person and a family. In February of this year her 27-year-old brother became the victim of a street takeover. Her brother, Raymond Stephen Olivares, had been crossing the street to his own house with his high school sweetheart Maria when they were struck by a car traveling over 100 mph. He was killed and Maria barely survived. Raymond was a Los Angeles civil engineer, Maria an LA Unified School District teacher. They had just gotten engaged and had just purchased a home.

“If this bill would have been in place before I might still have my brother,” Enamorado said fighting back tears. “This bill will and can save lives.”