To hear Ryan Smith tell it, it was a comment from his mom that got him started on his quest to save lives on Highway 395.
Smith said the two were driving on the notorious road and his mother wondered out loud if there was a cross where every person died if it would have any effect on raising awareness of the road’s dangers.
“And I started thinking (that) maybe if we shined some light on how horrible this road is would that make an impact,” he said.
Traffic safety is a topic close to Smith’s heart. He was involved in a serious accident in 2013 but survived.
Smith said he does not have close personal ties to anybody who has been in an accident on 395, but the topic is important to him nonetheless because of his personal experience.
“I made it out of my accident, but it’s just difficult when you see this happening to other people and they don’t gave the chance to make it. It’s about saving innocent lives,” he said.
Smith founded the Save Lives on 395 Facebook page.
“Right now what our goal is we are just trying to bring all the communities together,” he told the Daily Independent Friday. Smith said the group is reaching out to people in Edwards, Victorville, and Hesperia. Specifically, they are looking for people with dash cam footage showing near misses and documenting unsafe traffic patterns forced by the narrow road.
He said the hope is to use the videos as an educational tool to help bring about needed change.
“You can say how bad the road is but you it isn’t until you actually watch it that it makes an impact on you.”
The topic is unfortunately even more timely given news of yet another fatal accident on Wednesday on Highway 395 five miles south of Red Mountain, in which two people were killed and two people injured. This collision is still under investigation.
Statistics are surprisingly hard to come by for the stretch of road. One accounting puts the number of deaths so far this year at 14, although others are more conservative in their estimates. Smith said he is hoping to compile better statistics and is also looking for volunteers to help collect data.
He can be contacted via Facebook or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Smith said the group is also accepting donations to help fund the campaign. Donations will go toward designing and purchasing 8’x 4’ and 6’x 4’ reflective aluminum signs to warn drivers of the dangers of 395 as well as promote their petition and Facebook page.
Each person who makes a $10 donation will receive a free 7-inch-by-7-inch car magnet. Donations can be made at Keller Williams, State Farm, Cordell Construction, Madison Avenue, or Pita Fresh in Ridgecrest. Or donations can be made on PayPal and Smith said they would will deliver magnets straight to your home, free of charge. https://paypal.me/pools /c/83RRdvRmVU
All of the proceeds go toward funding the campaign. This fundraiser is distinct from Skip Gorman’s 395 fundraiser, but the two are not competing.
“I support Skip, I am 100 percent behind any effort that gets people talking and continues this forward momentum,” Smith said.