Route 54 has been referred to by various agencies as "The deadliest highway in San Diego County". This stretch of freeway, which follows the Sweetwater River from I-5 to Spring Valley, has claimed the lives of nine adolescent drivers and passengers in the past year alone, especially in a small area near Sweetwater Road. Despite the tragic loss of life in these accidents, the public is largely unaware of the dangers of this road, and I myself was personally unaware of it until an accident on Route 54 took the life of someone close to me.
On the evening of March 5th, 18-year old Damien LaFrancis of Chula Vista was driving three friends in a 1989 Dodge Colt when a road rage incident with another driver caused him to swerve into the path of a Ford F250. Damien and two of his passengers were killed in the collision and the sole survivor, 16-year old Harmony Kielty of Chula Vista, is lucky to be alive. The pain that Harmony has endured since then is something that no person should have to suffer through, and that is why I call for "No More on Route 54." In order to prevent any more people from losing their lives on this road, the community must work together with the media and police forces to spread awareness of the dangers of Route 54 and alleviate their effects.
In order to lessen the dangers caused by speeding and reckless driving on Route 54, local police and Highway Patrol forces must crack down on these actions. Driver's speeds should be monitored both by ground-based checkpoints and by airplane, and cameras installed to capture the license plate numbers of offenders. Signs should be posted at on-ramps to warn drivers of the new precautions and to inform them of the fines for speeding or reckless driving. The media should be made aware of the new program too ensure that everyone who lives in the area and uses Route 54 is aware of the dangers involved and the steps being taken.
The local media must also focus more on these tragic accidents when they occur.