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Tuesday, December 11 , 2018, 10:09 pm | Fair 53º


Trent Benedetti: Skateboard Bans, and Looking Both Ways Before Crossing the Street

Were you taught to look both ways before you cross the street? If ever there was common sense that ought to be common, this would be it. 

After all, who wants a run-in with a moving automobile? Cars are bigger, faster and considerably less likely to be battered, bruised or broken by colliding with a human than even the most muscular and fit among us.

So then, why do so many people walk into the street without looking as if they are invincible? Please do not claim you have not seen this idiotic behavior. We all have.

No doubt this foolishness results to some extent because the California Vehicle Code states, “(t)he driver of a vehicle shall ... exercise all due care and shall reduce the speed of the vehicle or take any other action relating to the operation of the vehicle as necessary to safeguard the safety of the pedestrian.”

In other words, drivers are supposed to watch out for people. It ought to be the other way around.

Please do not misunderstand. No one wishes harm upon the apparently brain-dead individuals who wander into the street as if it was their private walkway. Far from it.

Each of us would be a physical and emotional ruin if we hit a person on foot. In fact, we would all prefer to hit a brick wall, wreck our car, and possibly injure ourselves rather than run over a pedestrian.

But ask yourself, what makes a pedestrian more safe? Carefully and deliberately verifying there is no oncoming traffic by looking both ways before crossing the street? Or mindlessly walking into the street and assuming traffic will yield? The answer is easy.

Consequently, it should be the primary responsibility of the pedestrian to make sure that he or she does not get run over when crossing the street. But at some point in some hallowed hall of government, there was one or more silly, absolutely self-absorbed, mentally puny, physically pudgy, thoroughly paternalistic, and wholly taxpayer-dependent public official who thought it a good idea to begin relieving us of personal responsibilities.

While it may have begun with good intentions, absolving people of their obligation to take care of themselves is a slippery slope indeed.    Three of our five Santa Barbara County supervisors are perpetually perched upon this slippery slope, apparently always thinking they know best.

Take the ban upon skateboarding imposed a few weeks ago in certain parts of our county. According to Supervisor Salud Carbajal, the board majority was “trying to look out for everyone’s safety.”

Supervisor Steve Lavagnino correctly countered that “a lot of things we do are inherently dangerous.”

Driving a car on Highway 101 is inherently dangerous. Settling America was inherently dangerous. Declaring independence from Great Britain was inherently dangerous. Building a transcontinental railroad was inherently dangerous. Fighting World War II was inherently dangerous. Putting a man on the moon was inherently dangerous.

Electing people who think it their job to protect us from ourselves also is inherently dangerous. Where exactly does danger not lurk if something is overdone, done improperly or done carelessly?

Even water can be dangerous. People drown every day.

There are perils in life. The question is not whether government can make everyone safe. It cannot.

So, where should we vest primary responsibility for personal safety and well-being? We should vest that responsibility in ourselves. It’s common sense.

After all, who is more qualified to look out for you than you?

We should all look both ways before crossing the street. And if you are someone who would prefer for the government to do it for you, you are likely to get run over.

— Trent Benedetti is a member of the board of directors of the Committee to Improve North County and a longtime local business owner. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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