The streets of South LA have long had high numbers of car crashes, but during the pandemic, traffic collisions and DUI related collisions are up, all at a time when traffic itself decreased.
From the porch of her South LA church, Mt. Salem New Wave Christian Fellowship Church, Pastor Patricia Strong-Fargas has a front row seat to something she doesn’t want to see.
“We have a serious issue here, we have people dying here, we have people seriously injured here,” she said.
During the pandemic, traffic collisions have increased more than 40% and DUI related collisions are up 56%.
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Damian Kevitt has been an advocate for safer streets since 2013, when he lost a leg as the result of a hit-and-run. He is the founder of Streets Are For Everyone (SAFE.)
“South LA is not designed for the needs of the community, in terms of the streets and engineering. It’s designed for speed,” he said. “Re-engineering streets and doing things to make the streets safer and protect lives, it requires community support and political will.”
He has the support of Pastor Patricia who worked for 10 years to make this street safer for her congregation and those of two other churches on this intersection.
“Four people in the past two years have been killed on Central Ave,” she said.
They finally got the city to put up pedestrian crossing signs just before the pandemic hit, but even with them, there’ve been several accidents at this intersection, including Thursday night.
Advocates believe South LA’s wide streets, increased speeds during the pandemic, and the area’s high number of pedestrians caused a surge in pandemic collisions.
“You had essential workers who needed to get to work. They didn’t have a choice. They couldn’t stay home,” Kevitt said.
On Saturday, South LA faith leaders will join victims of traffic violence and Kevitt’s Streets Are for Everyone at a news conference.
Their message to city leaders...
“Listen to South LA, hear our voices, we have voices in South LA, we need your help.”