by Mary Pustejovsky
When I was 15 years old, I was friends with a wonderful group of guys who I knew through musical theater. Frank Fry and Brian King were stars of our performance of Guys and Dolls. They were delightful to work with and were like big brothers to me. After the show was over, Frank, Brian, and two other guys were driving down the highway to go to Disneyland for Frank’s birthday. Jeff, the driver, was tired and nodded off. The rumble strips woke him up and he swerved back onto the road. He over-corrected and drove into oncoming traffic at very high speeds. Jeff and the other passenger up front survived but Frank and Brian did not.
Two years later my childhood friend’s father was killed in a car crash. And in 2005, my cousin Michael (19 years old) was killed in a car crash as well.
I don’t know how to say this any other way, but losing someone you love in a car crash is devastating. I don’t want anyone to have this experience this, ever. I have two children now, and it has made me even more passionate about this cause. I love my children dearly and I can’t imagine losing them, or them losing me and growing up without a mother.
Vision Zero is an approach that recognizes that people make mistakes, but those mistakes need not be fatal. In Frank and Brian’s case, there is no doubt that Jeff should not have been driving while he was so tired. But there was also no median other than a short distance separating opposite lanes of high speed traffic from each other. Had there been one, there’s at least a chance they’d all still be alive today.
This is an excellent example where we can recognize that people are not perfect. Although self-driving cars which remove human error are on their way, we need solutions to the death on our roads NOW. That means better road design to encourage better behaviors, such as narrowing lanes where appropriate, or putting medians between high speed traffic to prevent collisions. It also means better enforcement and education around driving while tired, driving while intoxicated, or driving while texting. Vision Zero advocates a holistic approach, recognizing that no single “fix” is going to prevent all deaths on our roads.
No one should have to deal with so much death at a young age, or any age. If you agree, join our movement now.