Merry Christmas! Please buckle up

December 17, 2009

It’s ironic that during the Christmas season, you’d think automobile safety would be one of the first things on people’s minds. Take a look at Santa, one of the best examples of transit safety, safely buckled into his sleigh as he flies around the world with lots of cargo in tow.

OK, well maybe Santa isn’t buckled in, but his reindeer are harnessed, and Rudolph has got some major wattage in that headlight nose of his.

Aside from accounts of the Jolly Red One getting stuck in chimneys on his way to deliver presents, you never hear about Santa and Co. getting into any fender benders, or worse.

Yet, for everyone else, the holidays always become a major risk time for auto mishaps, drunk driving, and fatalities.

We’re still a week away from the heart of the Christmas/New Year’s season, and in Ventura County, we’re already seeing a number of incidents that could have been avoided.

Tuesday evening, a bicyclist was struck and killed by another motorist in Camarillo. Police have ruled out alcohol or drugs for both people involved in the accident, but there is speculation that had the cyclist been wearing proper reflective gear, he’d have been visible to motorists and wouldn’t have been run down at full speed.

Another cyclist was also struck in Thousand Oaks yesterday, and survived, but it doesn’t make the incident any more excusable considering the driver fled the scene … and the victim was just a 9-year-old boy. Police are still searching for the suspect.

A woman driving through Oxnard last night was lucky to survive a collision from another motorist who was eluding police in a high-speed chase through town. The man had stolen the car.

Two men were also carjacked yesterday in O-Town by a woman who brandished a gun at them. Not exactly a matter of “Auto safety,” but when it comes down to you and your car as the deciding factor for being blown away, I think it qualifies.

Let’s not forget all the driving after a night’s worth of drinking too much egg nog. Oxnard police are setting up DUI checkpoints as early as this week to bolster their holiday drunk driving enforcement; other PDs around Ventura County will be following suit. Sometimes no level of buckling up or auto safety is enough when you’re on the receiving end of a drunk driver.

Bets are open to see how many DUI arrests local police will have made by the New Year …

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