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Voices / A Forum for Community Issues

Just Be Aware of the Impact on All

October 24, 1998

Speed bumps are an important part of public road management. Known as "traffic calming," the humps in the roadway are becoming controversial, pitting residents against rescue workers. MAURA E. MONTELLANO spoke to a resident and a fire department official.

RALPH R. RAMIREZ

Battalion chief, L.A. Fire Dept.

We haven't had any problems in the city of Los Angeles with speed bumps. But residents need to understand that if there are speed bumps, it is going to affect the ability of fire trucks and paramedics to respond in a timely fashion. The rescuers are going to have to slow down when driving through these areas to avoid damaging the equipment. With any motor vehicle, you have to be careful going over bumps because it could cause suspension damage to the vehicle. Also, it could be a problem if the operator of the emergency vehicle loses control if a bump is hit at full speed. The driver could be hurt as well. Even small cars have difficulty maintaining control when going over these bumps. Most emergency vehicle operators will slow down whenever there is a sign alerting them of a dip or a speed bump ahead. This is done mainly for the safety of other drivers and pedestrians.

The Fire Department is sensitive to the public's concern about speeding cars and the fact that children are around. We want to work with city residents if they want to install speed bumps so we can ensure a timely response if and when there is an emergency. When it's brought to our attention that they are installed, the affected stations take a survey of the bumps and adjust their response time to that area. So speed bumps wouldn't be a surprise to firefighters when they respond. How much we have to slow depends on the height of the bump.

It goes without saying that if you have a narrow street and you put in speed bumps, the Fire Department needs to know. It will slow us down. This wouldn't be to dissuade residents from installing but to make them aware that it would definitely have an impact.

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