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Sunday, December 17, 2017

Death Race 2000

by Chris Volkay (writer), Los Angeles, December 07, 2006

Saturday, December 2nd, I made one of my usual drives up
Angeles Crest for a day presumably of hiking and enjoying
nature in the mountains. Same as thousands upon thousands of
us Angelenos do every day. It was about one o’clock. A scant
five miles up the crest, all of my illusions came to an
abrupt and violent end.

There in the middle of the road was the smashed and
contorted body of a motorcycle rider that had gone head on
with a BMW. He apparently died instantly. What a scene it
was, as family after family drove by and witnessed the
carnage in the middle of the road. I got out of my car to
try to stop traffic, which was difficult in and of itself,
as seemingly everybody on the crest is addicted to racing
through these mountains roads.

In this particular case, having not witnessed it, I
obviously have no idea who or what was at fault. But here on
Angeles Crest, the hills are alive with the sound of mayhem.
Modern day killing fields just to the north of the city. I
usually make it a rule not to go into the crest on the
weekends, simply because of the increased volume of traffic.
I have either witnessed or come upon literally many dozens
of accidents, many fatal. Cars have come careening at me
sideways and I have escaped being hit by pulling over to the
side as the flying metal goes screaming by. Bodies have come
hurtling at me through the air as I simply watch them being
smashed to pieces on the hard concrete or the side of a
stone mountain.

When entering the Crest, it’s like you’re leaving for
another place, a surreal, eerie place where no laws or rules
or even sanity seems to be tolerated. About a year ago, I
remember, 3 young people went flying off the Crest at the
very first turn, the torn railing is still there. Continue
on up the Crest and it is literally a showcase of crosses
and flowers where people have died.

I make it a policy to pull over and let people by me that
come racing upon me, simply out of self-preservation. I also
drive either at or a little below the speed limit and keep
well over to the right side of the road to avoid accidents
with people who come racing around the turns and into my
lane. By simply doing this, I have avoided a number of
accidents.

The car drivers are bad, but of course, the motorcycle
drivers are really the ones that have simply lost their
minds. Not all, but many. They buy these so-called bullet
bikes, and dressed up in their heavy leathers and helmets,
say a prayer to the god of motorcycles, and then proceed to
tear through the crest. Many times you can see dozens of
them at the base of the Crest, just waiting to make a run.
Racing through at 70, 80, 100 miles an hour(I know, because
I’ve asked some of them), they thunder through the canyons.

The reasons for this piece? I must admit, I have a vested
interest. I would like to not get slaughtered on the highway
as so many people do. I also think, as strange as it sounds,
that there should be some kind of warning to the traveling
public about the extreme dangers of the Crest. Sort of like
the advisories that are issued to travelers who are thinking
of vacationing in other countries. I don’t have the figures,
I looked but couldn’t find them, but I believe some type of
investigation would yield very large numbers of deaths and
accidents up on the Crest. I know that one weekend, three
people died in separate accidents up here. In Baghdad you
have roadside bombs and suicide bombers, on the Crest you
have seemingly suicidal drivers and riders flying through
the roads.

I would also like to make a plea to the motorcycle riders as
silly as I know that is. Like smokers, drug users, etc.
almost all riders I’ve spoken to admit that it’s dangerous,
but feel that it won’t happen to them. But of course it
does. Unlike falling off your skateboard or bike, one
mistake here on your bullet bike means tragedy and instant
death. And most of these bullet bikers are in their 20’s and
30’s, what a tragic waste of young life.

I’m not a traffic expert, I don’t know what the solutions
could or might be, but something needs to be done up here
and done quickly. Ban bullet bikes? Add more patrolmen? Call
in helicopters that can stay with them? The Crest is a real,
tangible danger and letting unsuspecting people travel up
here without any type of warning is, in my view, reckless.
Oh, and the Death Race 2000 I was referring to was an old
Sylvester Stallone movie. The 2000 was a reference to the
year 2000. I think the 2000 a more appropriate number in
reference to the number of casualties.


About the Writer

Chris Volkay is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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