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Mailbag: Self-absorption leads to distracted driving

April 11, 2014

We frequently read about the controversy between bikers and drivers as they struggle to share the road. I have the perspective from both sides of this controversy and have come to realize that bikers are not wrong, nor are drivers. People are the problem.

People are becoming more self-absorbed, or there are more self-absorbed people on the road these days. Frequently the people who cause the problems that lead to accidents, road rage and fatalities are either inattentive, occupy more of the road than they are legally entitled, or willingly flaunt traffic signs and laws. These are all actions of people who are losing sight of what it means to live within a society.

The prevalence of people who drive while talking or texting remains at unacceptably high levels. Whether I am driving or biking, I can count multiple other drivers who are talking while holding their mobile phones — despite a law passed prohibiting the habit and countless media stories about the level to which such actions distract a driver. Bikers and drivers who race through red lights, drivers who speed through school zones and don't use their turn indicators, and bike groups that fail to yield to other bikers or drivers are at epidemic levels.

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I would ask everyone, as we all become increasingly inwardly focused, that we apply some of the time to self-reflection. Will the minute that I spend at a red light really be such an inconvenience to me that I should endanger the lives of others by running a red light? Do I really need to disconnect from my surroundings and all traffic by having my headphones in my ears as I ride for exercise or commuting?

If people want to enjoy the fruits of society, such as roads, people need to do so within the context of society. Watch out for others, watch out for yourself and stop blaming other people.

Andrew Barnes

Costa Mesa

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An unheeded request on small lots

I attended the Costa Mesa City Council meeting of April 1 and witnessed the "tizzy" by Mayor Jim Righeimer when residents and two councilwomen voiced objections to the Small-Lot Subdivision Ordinance ("Council approves small-lot ordinance," April 3). When reminded to "listen to the residents," he said that he does listen.

Really? He explained that he does listen to the community and that "you 12 who always make public comments" don't represent the whole community.

If you don't agree with Righeimer, your input is invalid, and that is no way for an elected official to behave or speak. Remember, "we the people" defeated the proposed city charter by a 60-40 vote in 2012 and now must defeat Righeimer in his bid for re-election.

Margaret Mooney

Costa Mesa

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