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Monday, March 29, 2010

Letter To The Editor: "Is Anyone Out There? Is Anyone Listening?"

Letter To The Editor From Patti Silva / Miltonville.com

Dear Mayor, Council and Manager, and whomever else will listen:

This is one of those get a cup of coffee emails. Even if you don't read this now, I hope you will at some point. In advance I apologize but I still cannot accept that someone has lost their life on our roads again. Not one but two this time.

I just received this photo of the dad from a friend who knew him and when I look into his eyes I just cannot stop crying. I suppose that is his son on the right that may have been in the accident and lost his life as well. And there, is that the wife and mom? I'm completely sick and saddened and I don't even know these people. I'm seriously hurting because just by looking into his eyes, and even before I saw their picture, I knew he was a good man. A loving husband. A great father.

What do we do with this grief for a neighbor? How do we just go on and on? How do we help the family? How can I express my dismay and grief --and, I don't know how to explain to you how deeply it affects me and my own family. Every time. There have been too many fatal accidents in the short time we've lived in Milton. It's like we live in fear. Every time there is a death, it stirs up again.

The first time this happened was the night of the first Milton election. A boy named Parker Jackson. I'm speechless when I think of him. I do not know why his death so profoundly affected me but it did. He really did. As most of you know, his legacy is golden at Milton High School. I didn't know it at the time but I stood at the road of Summit Hill in the rain with a council person's sign as his mom stood on the opposite corner with the opponent's. We watched the ambulances go by together. Little did we know. But then almost instantly I had this sinking feeling in my entire being because I just knew.

Last night something happened and I want to tell you. I swear it is true.

My friend's son came up the driveway in his brand new truck. He and three other Milton High School boys. A couple of them wearing their Letterman jackets. It looked like a scene out of a movie. After I gushed over their high school's musical production of Grease I saw the night before, I stopped them before they left. I walked up to the brand new 17 year old driver in his brand new truck and I said this: I know you will think I'm a crazy mom which I am but will you please listen to me and stay off two roads in our area. Birmingham Highway and anywhere on Providence or New Providence Roads. I looked into his eyes in fact all of theirs, and said I knew that they knew why. They all did. Every one of them.

Our roads are not safe. Weather gets bad. People speed or talk on their phone. Good drivers mess up. Good kids mess up. Great Dads mess up. Look at him

It doesn't matter how the accident happens, who is at fault, but rather how are you supposed to not hit a tree if your tires go off the road even one foot. It is the natural landscape on the sides of our roads. Often there is nowhere to go. We have hundreds of houses where there were only two or three in a mile, and more people are trying to pass on two lanes at 50+ miles per hour than ever. It's because it rains and accidents happen in the rain but because there is nowhere to go but off the road downhill driving in most cases at 40-50+ miles per hour we don't survive. Sometimes not even driving that fast. You just try to avoid the center line because normal human error puts you over the line sometimes yourself at that rate of speed.

We all know it. Anyone who lives here knows it.

If you've moved to Milton from somewhere else like me then you know what it felt like when you first drove here. You cannot believe how fast you must drive on roads like Freemanville or Hopewell in such a long, narrow section of road! And then soon you get right in the groove and do the same thing. You get comfortable with it. That's not okay when none of us know how to run off the road properly, as if there is a way to do this at the posted speed limit. It's not okay when some of my elderly Milton friends have to get their mail in fear every day or sometimes can't get it because of a freeway in front of their house either.

What are we going to do? I'm still flabbergasted that the State has not fixed the "Bermuda Triangle" of Milton at the intersection of New Providence and Birmingham Hwy. Can you imagine? How many accidents have happened there and near heart attacks we all have when trying to cross each day. It's like a really bad nightmare that won't end. But we have to live it every single day to get our families to the other side of the road.

Take a closer look into the eyes of this family. We have to do something. I think we have a Responsibility here. Every single death seems to be because no matter what you do - it doesn't matter how, why, what or where - if you go off the road you will hit a tree and die. This man didn't have to die. Parker Jackson didn't either. And the other ones. We should not only protect families from harm but also families who grieve every time there is a loss in our community. The ones who witness the death at the scene. That's not okay. And those of us who see ourselves just like these people. We are human. I'm so afraid it will be you or me.

I'm painfully sad over this and so very afraid for our community.

Will anyone do something or do I have to try and just let it all go.
Thanks for listening.

-Patti Silva

PS What do I want you may ask? I want a city-wide maximum speed limit of 35 mph. I want that death trap intersection fixed immediately. I want 3 and 4-way stop signs everywhere. I want those roadside warning signs showing a car going off the road and hitting a tree with a big "x" in red. I WANT the Milton Police to collect revenue and then turn around to educate us all. Go ahead, ticket me. I want that small town feeling where we all know the officers names and the teenagers, and even me, know that they are watching out for them. That village thing. Make a presence. We need that. We need You. We need to be Safe. That's what I want.

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

I hope people are listening, but let's be real, probably not as the 'it won't happen to me' mentality overides. I saw the scene and as a father, it hit me rather hard. What is so unfortunate, is that it is rather apparent that speed was the factor here. Parents, it's time to realize your children watch and learn from your actions. What is okay for you to do is teaching them it is okay for them also.

Anonymous said...

Patti, as I sat in my den tonight watching "Dancing", our Milton police officer pulled 2 people over for speeding. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! The first car I saw speeding towards Mayfield Road towards the stop sign. I was thinking to myself, wish the police were out. In about 10 seconds the blue lights came racing. Speeders don't care. Bethany Road is dark at night. People have to start slowing down. I love every speeding ticket our officers give out. Thanks to everyone for all they do to keep Bethany Rd. safer at night.

Anonymous said...

Safe driving is the responsibility of all; we must realize that these roads were laid out in the 1940's and are not built for the speed of todays' cars or the amount of heavy traffic, especially during the rush hours. Our traffic police are doing all they can with limited resources. Council can help if they would provide for a larger traffic force, but it is up to each of us to slow down, and concentrate on our driving.

Karl Haase said...

I fully support a town-wide 35 mph limit and a portion of the budget (local, county and state) allocated to increased enforcement. Lets make it happen!

Anonymous said...

I can't agree more with Patti concerning the Crossing Birmingham Hwy and Providence Road/ New Providence Road. My son is just 18 and every time I hear the sirens of the police or ambulance from my house my heart freezes and egotistically I'm hoping nothing happen to my son.
PLEASE do something. Life should not have a price!

Anonymous said...

We shouldn't lower any speed limits.. it's all about personal responsibility.

Anonymous said...

Patti, Thank you, as a parent of 4 boys, two of which are driving ages, I completely agree with you. Freemanville, Providence and Birmingham Hwy. are death traps for anyone of any age. Numerous deaths have occured on these roads over the last few years. I do wish there was something we all could do to prevent such horrible events. My prayers go out to the parents and families that have suffered their loss.

Christopher said...

Unfortunately, the City of Milton does not have complete control over our speed limits. Milton can and has, recommended lowering of speed limits on certain roads, but GDOT has the final say and they will only allow for a change to occur once a year.

Hwy 9 and Birmingham Hwy (372) are in complete control by GDOT

Tim, and a few others can confim this as we have tried for years to have speed limits lowered.

Karl Haase said...

In the comfortable world of isolation - personal responsibility can certainly suffice as the rule of law. In the uncomfortable world of reality (people that don't/won't take personal responsibility, people that sometimes make mistakes, cell phones and texting etc....) - we need boundries to build habits.

I cannot think of a reason why we would not want to have a 35 mph speedlimit on all open roads throughout the city. The town I grew up in was twice the land area of Milton and other than the highway that ran through the center of town - the speed limit was 25 mph. Nobody ever said a word about it either and the worst accident you would see was a dented bumper.

Think of it like seat belt use. Many of us never used one. It became law and now you don't even think about the law - you just put it on because it has become a habit and it makes sense now that you have been doing it so long.

35 and arrive alive!

Anonymous said...

Do we really think that 35mph will help anything? Will someone who drives 65 in a 45 now go 55 in a 35? I doubt it, but maybe. Another thing to think about is our city's ability to enforce speed limits. If GDOT does not agree with our limits, we are unable to enforce them.

Tim Enloe said...

Chris:

I can confirm that you are correct. Dealing with GDOT is no easy task.

Tim Enloe
Accessmilton.com
770 653 0552

Anonymous said...

It's obvious drivers aren't going to obey traffic laws, certainly not speed limits. Enforcement is the only logical answer and this requires the man/woman power to issue citations. The court then has to hit them in the pocket book where it hurts.

No crying when an honor student is given a citation for speeding, you did the crime, you pay the fine.

I doubt, in my lifetime, we'll see any REAL commitment for traffic enforcement from the City or from the citizens.

Old saying, "SEEING IS BELIEVING"

K Haase said...

Some ideas to handle the issue outside of the GDOT....and on a Milton-like budget....

1). Randomly park un-used Milton police cars around town at different locations/times of day - just off the road - looking like a speed trap. You can have anyone from the city drop them off and pick them up - don't need an officer. Even once folks figure this tactic out - you aren't going to speed past one on the chance it has an office in it. It is a great supplement to real speed traps.

2). Another idea is it to set up a "pacer" program. Each participant pays for a magnet or bumper sticker to put on the back of their own cars, designating their car as a speed pacer. Then when you are out driving around town - drive the minimum legal speed (35 in a 45?). Get enough residents to participate and we will see a real difference. And it is self funded.

3). Have a little fundraiser and buys some signs that can be placed on the STOP signs - just under the official sign. Have funny saftely slogans suggesting a safe speed or other safety message. Seen these in the mid-west and up in Maine. Has a small town feel and supposedly is effective to a point.

4). I know this will get all the Neal Boortz fans bent :-), but work with the local school PTA's to run an education campaign directed toward the kids. Putting it bluntly - teach the kids to guilt their parents into obeying the speed limit! When you're 8 year old asks you "why are you going 55 in a 40 zone daddy?" would you have any other answer than to say "you're right - I'll slow down - and thanks for noticing son!"

I'm sure people alot more creative than I can come up with a ton more of these ideas that don't cost a whole bunch. What do you say? Let's use some of the energy in this blog group toward something good rather than complaining about our town!!

Anonymous said...

Look, this is not about issuing speeding tickets. This is about saving lives and making sure another tragic accident like this does not happen again. I do not know anything about what caused the accident, but from looking at the scene, the road was very straight and made me wonder how anyone could swerve off it. My first thought was that a cell phone was involved, or the driver took his eye off the road and it was too late to correct (the hill he went down was very steep). GA needs to make a law that requires all drivers using phones to have to use a bluetooth or something of that sorts, CA already practices that law and it seems to be effective. While driving, safety HAS to be your #1 priority, not other things like the radio, phones, etc.
RIP.

Anonymous said...

If your speeding, it's about issuing speeding tickets.

Anonymous said...

If all else fails and some are given tickets for traffic violations, assign grief counselors to the court room to comfort those who are found guilty.

Anonymous said...

The State of Georgia only bans School Bus drivers from the use of hand held cell phones. Everyone else, including novice drivers are permitted in this state to drive while talking or texting on the phone.

Bus drivers only, what about other bus drivers or mass transit? The law needs to be improved in this State.

Jan Jones where are you? there have been 8 deaths on Milton roads and you live here. Do something other then Milton County!

Miltonville said...

Hello everyone who wrote. Thank you for the positive energy to do something- anything. We HAVE to! I sent my letter to Jan Jones. I really do think she can and will help. Whether it be all "my wants"? Doubt it but I know her voice is louder than mine or yours. She has connections. She can at least get that b'ham hwy/providence horrible ridiculous redtape situation if I ever did see one. We have to live it everyday. I bet she does too. See, there is this boy calling my name. Yours too. I swear this time I just can't take no for an answer. It's just so wrong. Everyone will say, you can't change anything, Patti. Stop wasting your time. This is an amazing place. I know someone will listen now. You did

Miltonville said...

P. S. If you want to hear a new perspective which I never knew until the other day, just ask Ginger Enloe what she saw the night someone died on Bethany and she saw it. She saw the man. Can you imagine!!!!!! I'm still in shock at the thought of this. Oh my G-d!!!

You don't know the back story to this. Who the man was. What he might have been doing when he went off the road. And you know what? It matters and then doesn't matter. It's LEGAL. Even if it is wrong. We are human. We will all make mistakes, sometimes.

This man that Ginger saw- and knew personally I think- they think he may have just called his wife. There's a backstory there too. Don't want to go there. It's heartbreaking if true. Again, doesn't matter. He died. That's what matters to me. And he was just looking for his phone cause his wife was calling. He couldn't find it. He never ended up finding it.

Ginger did.

Oh my G-d!!!! That freaks me out.
Please at least help get that one intersection fixed if it's the only thing we can do. Thx.

Robert said...

Let's look at the big picture for a second. All major studies of lowering speed limits have proven that it is not an effective technique to reduce crashes. For instance, the Autobahn in Germany is, for the most part, without a speed limit and there is a lower accident rate. I agree with the earlier poster that personal responsibility is fostered through not having speed limits. Montana just recently instituted limits on major roads and the accident rate increased! When people pay more attention to staying below a certain speed as opposed to driving safely, they get distracted. Most people choose to drive safely and at a speed they feel is safe. More government regulation is not the solution. Of course, there will always be exceptions such as some careless teens, but they will drive recklessly regardless of the speed limit.

I definitely agree that the Birmingham/New Providence intersection needs improvement and that people need to pay more attention and drive slower when need be in order to reduce accidents. However, 35 miles per hour is atrociously slow, especially for major roads which such as Birmingham which do not have much traffic at most hours. I would wager that everybody reading this has broken the speed limit at one point or another. It is hypocritical to demand lower speed limits. Milton has enough money as it is without the additional fines. Also, if people think that the number on the sign in unreasonable, they won't respect it. The limit should accommodate driving habits of responsible and safe citizens.

What reasonable speed limits do:

They invite public compliance by conforming to the behavior of the majority.

They give a clear reminder of reasonable and prudent speeds to non-conforming violators.

They offer an effective enforcement tool to the police.

They tend to minimize the public antagonism toward police enforcement which results from obviously unreasonable regulations.


Whether we like it or not, the majority of drivers in this area drive around 45mph on all roads including the 35mph ones. We should focus on changing/improving intersections and public awareness of safe and defensive driving techniques to avoid accidents.

Robbie said...

I agree that it is sad that lives have been lost on our milton roads. But lets not rushout to lower speed limits to "save lives". 8 people in 4 years is only 2 per year, or 2 out of the 20k that live here. Thats a .0001 chance of being killed in a traffic accident. You have better chances of drowning in a pool. Other that the birmingham hwy/ providence intersection i would say our roads are pretty safe. We should not let our emotions influence our decisions.

Tim Enloe said...

Robbie:

I have enjoyed reading your comments.

I was curius do you live in a subdivision neighborhood or an open road neighborhood?

All the best -

Tim Enloe
Accessmilton.com
770 653 0552

K Haase said...

To Robert - I have also seen the studies you mention and for the most part agree - that on highways - lowering the limit doesn't help accident rates in a positive way. But if you notice - all these studies look at are highway situations. Highways are different because you can have many cars across multiple lanes all traveling at different speeds. This is what leads to accidents.

I have not exhautively researched this - but I have yet to find such a study for secondary roads. Logic holds though that the situation is completely different.

I am also speaking from experience. As I mentioned before - my hometown had a town-wide 25 (talk about painful!). Granted - you still had some teens doubling that on occasion...but I will tell you that we NEVER had a major accident on the secondary roads in a town with twice as many people as Milton. Never.

I also look at that stretch of road (Hopewell and what ever it turns into as you enter Alpharetta going South) when the limit drops from 45 to 35. Do you speed there? Bet you don't. The reason - that flashing sign and the fact that the cops are there all the time ticketing. That's all I am asking - drop the limit and write some tickets - over time - the habit sets in and you start to realize 35 for a couple of miles till you get to 400 didn't cost you but more than 2 minutes. You even got some time to take in all the horse farms around town (while we still have them!).

Peace and out....I'm done on this topic for now :-)

Karl

Anonymous said...

In the NJ suburbs where I grew up, if a young driver took a turn too fast or just drifted too far to the right, he might end up scraping or jumping a curb. The consequences of this ranged from nothing to a scratched bumper to (worst case) a damaged tire.

On some of Milton's winding narrow roads - with no curbs or even shoulders - the penalty for the same offense can be instant death - off the road, down the embankment, into a tree.

On certain roads, in certain areas, we need to give our drivers a margin for error by expanding the shoulders and adding guard rails to prevent death by tree.

Anonymous said...

Maybe we can regulators installed in our cars to prevent us from going over 35. (joking!)

It's personal responsibility first and foremost, common sense and judgement. It was an adult that was behind the wheel this time, not a kid. Two lane roads everywhere are dangerous, not just in Milton, GA. How about checking into other cities in the nation that have majorily two lane roads as we do, and see what they have done possibly to keep their roads safe. Bottom line, it's up to the driver to pay attention to the road at all times, that's the best chance for survival regardless of what any city can do to try and make the roads as safe as possible.

Miltonville said...

A Milton resident created a Facebook page called:
Petition for Safer Roads in Milton Georgia. Check it out and become a "fan" to get updates.