Traffic Issues Around Schools are Focus of CHP


CVW was with California Highway Patrol (CHP) last Thursday at Crescenta Valley High School observing driving patterns. The CHP has about 20 schools to patrol throughout its area, and all appear to have a common thread.

“The drivers are creating their own traffic jams,” said Officer Keller.

Many schools are located within neighborhoods so school traffic competes with normal neighborhood traffic. Often school drivers forget this when they park or stop in front of driveways, speed up and down streets or make mid-street U-turns.

CHP Officers Bay and Keller said they are seeing speeding, distracted driving and parking in red zones around schools, and on Thursday many of the citations written to drivers had to do with these issues.

There were several examples that if just one component went differently a traffic butterfly effect might have occurred – with tragic outcomes.

One driver who was traveling north on Ramsdell Avenue near Altura Avenue rolled into the red zone in front of the school. The driver slowly continued to roll northbound in the red zone until his/her vehicle stopped in the crosswalk. Students who were crossing stopped, apparently trying to decide whether they should go in front of or behind the rolling car. The car continued north out of the crossing lane and then for some reason it sped up into the marked student loading and unloading area where it almost collided with a truck. The truck, which was following traffic laws, had begun to pull into the clearly marked student drop-off/pick-up zone. The car and truck stopped in time but this could have been a collision that would affect several student pedestrians.

There were several examples of drivers stopping in or extremely near the crosswalk. A group of students that had waved cars through the crosswalk said for the most part they found that drivers respect the crosswalk.

“Yesterday there was a car speeding [toward] the crosswalk. I didn’t think he was going to stop but he stopped in time,” one of the students said.

Keller added that a lot of the students are looking at their phones and not looking up as they cross the street.

Then there were some drivers who would stop near the crosswalk, but still in the traffic lane, and let out their student. When traveling northbound this causes problems with vehicles at the drop-off area. Southbound some of the students who are let out at the crosswalk may use the crosswalk but not from its beginning at the sidewalk but midway through the crosswalk – again, surprising drivers traveling southbound.

“Many drivers don’t realize that you need to stop at the shark teeth [symbols] prior to the crosswalk,” said Officer Bay.

The “shark teeth” are the long triangle symbols painted on the road that are technically termed a stop line. They are placed 20 to 50 feet in advance of a marked crosswalk to show where vehicles are required to stop, or yield, when pedestrians are present.

Another traffic law drivers don’t seem to take into consideration is making a U-turn in neighborhoods. This was another common citation CHP was issuing on Thursday.

Other issues were cars stopping both west- and eastbound on Altura Avenue to let out their student from the car thus creating traffic back up on Ramsdell and Altura avenues. One father pulled over on Altura, parked legally and let out his child from the car. She crossed Altura at the end of the block then used the crosswalk at Ramsdell. The father stayed to watch her make her way safely across the street.

This is his child’s first year at CVHS. He said what he noticed, not just at CVHS but at other schools, is the attitude of parents.

“Once they drop off their child they don’t seem to care about anyone else,” he said.

He said he watched drivers ignoring traffic rules, including making U-turns and speeding. Last year he saw the same type of driving issues at Rosemont Middle School.

“There are too many kids,” he said. “There is really not a well regulated [drop off] area.”

He felt the school administration needs to work more not only with Los Angeles County but also with private contractors to do an in-depth traffic flow study.

“Rosemont … was not meant for that type of traffic,” he added.

The Crescenta Valley Town Council [CVTC] has worked with Glendale Unified School District, the administration at local schools, elected officials, law enforcement and Public Works to make streets safer but each study takes a long time to complete. Then implementation is another time-consuming issue. The U-turn signs that have been approved for placement around CVHS have yet to be put in place.

CVTC is continuing to push for more studies and the implementation of more safety measures.

For those driving around schools, especially during high-traffic times, CHP is in the area and will be citing those who do not follow traffic laws. Drivers need to be aware of the laws even if there are no signs posted.