Sunday’s letters: The government shutdown is affecting safety of our roads

Sunday’s letters to the editor
Published January 11

The beginning of every year should be a time of hope, with the possibility of changing behavior for the better. Tragically, a traffic crash only three days into the new year ended in death for five children aged 9 to 14 on Interstate 75 near Gainesville.

My nightmare began on Feb. 23, 1996. My 14-year-old twin daughters were the victims of a crash caused by reckless and distracted driving. Five children were killed, including my daughter Dori. Her twin survived with serious injuries. This event consumed my mind and my heart. I dedicated my life to road safety.

In 2000, I was elected representative for the Florida House, and subsequently re-elected five times.

In 2004, I started the Dori Slosberg Foundation to improve road safety by working with law enforcement, legislators, and the public. Major areas of concern include seatbelt compliance, distracted driving and drunk driving.

In 2009, the Dori Slosberg and Katie Marchetti Safety Belt Law passed, allowing police officers to stop cars for occupants not wearing seatbelts. In 2011, the Dori Slosberg Driver Education Safety Act was approved, adding $5 to traffic tickets. This has contributed more than $85 million directly for driver’s education programs in public and private schools across Florida.

We have an epidemic. More than 40,000 people died in car crashes nationwide in 2017, including 3,000 in Florida.

What my two decades of traffic safety advocacy has taught me is that crashes are preventable. Learning the cause of crashes is imperative to reducing fatalities. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigates many highway crashes, but it is not clear when or if it will investigate this tragedy. It is reported that NTSB staff are on furlough because of the federal shutdown.

The president and Congress need to reopen the government so the NTSB can work with Florida law enforcement and transportation officials to investigate the crash. The parents and family of those lost in this crash deserve to know what happened.

Irv Slosberg, Boca Raton

The writer, a former state representative, is founder and CEO of the Dori Slosberg Foundation, a not-for-profit agency devoted to highway safety in honor of his daughter who passed away in a 1996 car crash.

Forget the wall, end the shutdown | Editorial, Jan. 10

Reagan and a wall

Undoubtedly Ronald Reagan was the most popular Republican president in the last several decades. And undoubtedly the most remembered thing he said while in office was, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall,” referring to the one that divided East and West Berlin.

Now we have another Republican president who knows almost nothing about history and who doesn’t think that anything said by anyone other than himself is of any importance. But for the rest of you Republicans, “tear down the wall,” not “build the wall,” is the statement that will go down in history. Now is the time to tell your legislators that building the wall means tyranny, tearing it down means freedom. Don’t let your party sponsor the wall. Listen to Reagan.

George Scheitinger, Dunedin

A wall as a locked door

A friend recently asked me if I was in favor of a border wall, and I responded I was. She started asking me why, and I asked if she locked her doors at night. I asked why, and she responded to keep strangers out of her house. I explained that the United States is my “house” and I feel the same way. I don’t want strangers or unknown people in my house. If I know who they are and know they aren’t a danger to me or my family I have no problem letting them into my “house.” She quickly saw my point.

The only reason Democrats are against the wall is because President Donald Trump wants it. It’s strictly politics, not acting for the good of their constituents.

Albert Ravenna, St. Pete Beach

The joy of reading, from father to son to daughter to grandsons | Column, Jan. 6

Parents are first teachers

I loved reading about Bill Maxwell and his joy for reading. As a retired educator, I know reading is so vital to the success of every student. He reminded us that parents are a child’s first teacher. He is absolutely right.

As a child, his father (who dropped out of school in eighth grade) read comic books to him and created a joy for reading. To me, it doesn’t matter what you read, so long as you read.

It is so important for all parents to read to their children and create an atmosphere of adventure. Reading can take you to places that you may never physically get to, but oh, what fun it can be!

Marilyn Satinoff, Palm Harbor

Sheriff: Act now for school safety | Jan. 3

Do not arm teachers

I generally agree with Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri’s position on issues, but not this time. At the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, a trained veteran police officer could not summon up the nerve to open the door and confront the shooter. Do we really want to give that responsibility to school staff members?

Tom Reid, Seminole

The 2020 election

Is this the best we can do?

In 1789 the leading nominees for president were John Adams and George Washington. They came from a population of just under 4 million. In 2016 we were a nation of around 323 million and served up as candidates for president Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. In those early days, valor and virtue were highly valued — not so much in later days. We are now early in the “trial balloon” days for candidacy. I am hoping to see some “originalist” values from new mouths.

Mortimer Brown, Lutz

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