Here’s another weekly potpourri of thoughts and observations about breaking news and Valley things both great and small . . .
“He never knew what hit him, and that would have comforted me, except . . . just for one second, he would have had to know, wouldn't he? There must have been a blur, a sense of the world exploding, a flashpoint of receiving more damage than a human body could endure.”
— Lisa Kleypas, Sugar Daddy
“Blood Alley” — what they call the lethal 100-mile stretch of Mojave Desert highway from Hesperia to Inyokern. Officially it’s US 395 and if ever there was a road purposely designed to promote highway death, this is it. See, US 395 is one treacherous high-speed lane North immediately adjacent to one treacherous high-speed lane South. But that’s not enough. It’s full of large ponderous trucks closely followed by SUVs often driven by impatient skiers. But that’s not enough. It has insidious curves and undulations which often mask the presence of oncoming traffic. But that’s not enough. What few passing lanes this entire stretch once had were removed for reasons the most cynical among us cannot imagine except perhaps to further aggravate the SUV driver’s wafer-thin patience and non-existent common sense.
But even that’s not enough. By now all the impatient SUV drivers know that there are no passing lanes ahead (ever!) so, unless they just shut their eyes real tight, stand on the accelerator and swing-out into the adjacent oncoming traffic lane to pass that damn truck in front of them, skiing season will be over before they get to Mammoth. But even that’s not enough. Over the last decade, I sense that a careful study of the accident statistics (on US 395 and nationwide) will show the advent of cellphone use as a step-function increase about 5 to 7 years ago when impatient SUV drivers also became increasingly distracted.
And if you think even that’s not enough, you would be wrong. Nothing brings a speeding careless double yellow line crosser closer to Jesus than the sight of a CHP or Sheriff’s cruiser nearby. But when was the last time you saw a CHP or Sheriff’s cruiser in Blood Alley? Not lately, I’ll bet! Few will admit it, but my hunch is that a perfect storm of diminishing enforcement budgets and other, less demanding of fuel and personnel time, priorities are keeping the cruisers elsewhere. And here’s a related tidbit: Since Governor Moonbeam saw fit to empty our prisons onto our city streets, the State crime rate has gone way up in California. So the thinly spread police of all verities are very very busy now dealing with a world of felonies transcendent of passing across yellow double lines and otherwise being fatally stupid on US 395.
And if that (surely!) is still not enough, keep in mind that all the frenetic lethal highway chaos just mentioned is increasingly exacerbated by the casual use of marijuana, which is now sanctioned and “legal”, at least at the State level. And the metrics for pot’s overt and subtle levels of driving impairment have still not yet been legally determined nor has an acceptable test for impairment emerged. Add more poorly trained and unlicensed drivers to the mix and it’s easy to understand why many of us would, and do, go considerably out of our way to avoid the 100 miles known as Blood Alley WHICH WE ALL PAID FOR but cannot, with any good judgment, now use.
So every year that San Bernardino First District Supervisor Robert Lovingood and the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority (SBCTA) continue to ignore this issue, the Blood Alley slaughter will go on and on and on.
Now, we have all been witness to our fair share of mayhem and near misses on US 395. Some of us have lost friends and family members and surely all of us know somebody whose life has been forever altered by Blood Alley. So everybody should now resolve, starting today, to do something about it. I have! For starters, try this: Send Supervisor Lovingood a strong letter (the handwritten ones on nice stationary and in fancy envelopes carry a lot of weight but an all-caps e-mail may also work) suggesting that he takes his feet off his desk, lay down the glazed donut, and shepherd an emergency measure through their moribund system to immediately double-widen San Bernardino’s share of US 395. Set this up so that every time there is another fatal accident on Blood Alley, you send him still another letter but worded more strongly than the last (Oh, and be sure to send a courtesy copy each time to the SBCTA and San Bernardino Caltrans District 8). Be prepared to do this relentlessly at least for the next two or three years. We can do much more but this would be a good start. Soon I’ll have some nifty US 395 window and bumper stickers supporting this issue that you can get and display which will be available in our usual local places about town. So it now begins . . .
San Bernardino First District Supervisor Robert A. Lovingood, 385 N. Arrowhead Ave., 5th Floor, San Bernardino, CA 92415-0110
That has been this week’s audioblog, and this is Skip Gorman (firstname.lastname@example.org) returning you all now back to a quieter and gentler place. . .
The views expressed are those of the columnist and do not necessarily represent the official stance of the Daily Independent.