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Close to Home: Putting the brakes on dangerous driving

The genie is out of the bottle. I'm not sure exactly when it happened, but to anyone who reads about the number of drunken driving arrests and traffic deaths, it's apparent that something is wrong.

When a mother driving her children to school or a nurse driving home from a night shift at a local hospital is killed by a drunken driver or an inattentive driver, we have a problem.

From my perspective, the problem is that unless those in charge try to make our streets and lives safer, things can get worse.

Bottom line: those in power need to have a conference and ask mental health, law enforcement, parents, teens, winery workers, pot growers, educators, senior citizens, parents, migrant workers, brewery owners, etc. to come together to figure out what needs to be done to prevent the spiraling traffic deaths in our community.

For example, speed limits on many of our roads are in direct conflict with drivers, pedestrians and bikers. I frequently see children and parents walking or biking on Occidental and Green Valley roads, navigating the 3-foot-wide bike lanes while cars race by at a ridiculous 50 mph speed limit. Whoever is in charge of deciding the speed limits should participate in the community meeting to hear proposals on traffic safety and offer a rationale for the posted speed limits.

There also are the tourists who frequent the 456 wineries in our county. I'm not sure who felt we needed 456 wineries. However, alcohol consumption, like pot, has become too normalized. I would like winery owners and/or their hosts to come to the forum to tell us how much information is presented to tourists about drinking and our hazardous roads.

Let's also invite owners affiliated with liquor stores and grocery stores to explain what they are doing to control sales of alcohol to individuals who are under age or might propose a risk.

Can we please invite politicians to see what they can do to lower the blood-alcohol limit to .05% or thereabouts? I would invite the Highway Patrol to commend them on preventative programs such as DUI checkpoints and surveillance.

Finally, invite teens who drive each day to school and work. Each year, another group of 16-year-olds obtains their driver's licenses. What suggestions would they have about cellphone use as well as drinking, smoking pot and driving?

I started out with the genie in the bottle metaphor to explain why our roads have become so dangerous. Again, we need to have a community forum about what needs to be done to protect everyone from becoming a statistic. If you don't want to do it for yourself, do it for our kids. Why wait for another tragedy?

David Sortino is the director of the Neurofeedback Institute. He lives in Graton. You can contact him at davidsortino@comcast.net.

You can send a letter to the editor at letters@pressdemocrat.com

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