Honestly, the issue of speed on the streets is a very complex issue. In every country, there are speed problems, accidents, hit-and-runs, and deaths, and East Boston is no different.
The East Boston problem is really a problem created by the formation of modern slums. Disorderly and irresponsible condominiums and luxury apartments have been built, bringing a huge mass of young but adult people with money, who mostly own two cars per family, resulting in huge traffic congestion on the streets and highways, resulting in frustration and despair whenever an endless wait is an insight.
The coronavirus pandemic has brought with it, in addition to sick people and deaths, a wave of stress and depression to people who have had to stay home since the first order was given to prevent contagion. People are frustrated, out of place, and disoriented to say things politely. Especially young people! Hormones, normally eliminated through physical exercise, are raging through our youth, causing them to take advantage of an opportune moment to go out and distract themselves by breathing fresh air, even if it is through masks.
All these circumstances have generated a wave of automotive violence, causing people to put the “pedal to the metal” of their accelerators and drive at high speeds through the narrow streets of Eastie. Even on highways, there have already been cases of car racing that have ended fatally.
Such is the case of Jonathan Hernandez Flores, who died instantly after losing control of his car, which crashed into an electric pole on the William F. McClellan Highway (Route 1-A) during an apparent car race.
This was the second fatal accident involving speed in Eastie within just a few weeks, with the third happening back in 2019. In February this year, Isaiah Ortiz and Alexander Cabrera were killed when their vehicle crashed into a pole on Chelsea Street. In 2019, Amber Pelletier, a university student from Rhode Island, died when the car she was traveling in collided with several parked cars and then overturned on Bennington Street.
Pretending to provide solutions to these speeding problems would be impossible because we would have to be engineers in road and transit matters. But what we can do is to review and give suggestions that may or may not be of value to the experts.
The East Boston Transportation Justice Coalition has been organized at the neighborhood level and is conducting monthly meetings with neighbors interested in solving these transit problems, and that’s where I heard a few people talking about the idea that road education may be the answer to preventing vehicle traffic violence. I believe that this initiative would take a long time, moreover, to drive a vehicle already requires the driver to be licensed. I think if we get tough on the offenders driving over the speed limit in Eastie, we could solve this problem. But we must act quickly, because otherwise those drivers, their passengers, and pedestrians are at risk of more high-speed mishaps.
And we must be aware that now that we’re in spring and the weather is starting to warm up a little bit, there’s going to be a lot of kids on the streets, and with them their moms and their little brothers and sisters, and it wouldn’t be fair for any of them to be run over by the irresponsibility of some madman behind the wheel. Even the elderly are going to go for a walk around the block at least, and any of them could be one of our parents who ends up in a roll or under the tires of a car.
If you get tough on speeders, no one is literally going to die, because the speed of the vehicles would be being controlled from now on through speed bumps, big fines, car confiscation, license forfeiture, a prison for driving at high speed, more road signs, street patrols, surveillance cameras, traffic lights, new licenses for young people with psychological personality exams, etc., etc.
A young person behind the wheel being licensed does not guarantee skill in handling, responsibility, maturity, and objectivity. Even professional race drivers can’t save themselves from all accidents, but they race in a place prepared for those competitions and not on the streets.
Others say parents should be told to caution their children who are already driving about speeding. But I don’t think that would have any effect on the mind of a boy who likes vertigo and adrenaline. In addition, they are already adults and will make the decisions they want when driving. No matter how many tears the mother sheds or how much she advises, begs, pleads, and implores that they handle their cars very carefully, circumstances will determine their actions.
Therefore, we pray those city officials do what parents cannot: insist that everyone follows traffic laws, and demand that those who do not obey the law be greatly fined to motivate them to slow down in the future. We all deserve to be able to walk around the neighborhood and drive on the roads of the city without having to face death!