By Mary O’KEEFE
As it does at the beginning of every school year, the California Highway Patrol was out in force, focusing on schools in the Crescenta Valley.
Friday found CHP motor officers at La Crescenta Elementary. There are several issues with traffic at this school, primarily that it is located on a busy street that is a thoroughfare to the Foothill  Freeway.
Mornings near La Crescenta Elementary are extremely busy with parents dropping off their children, parents and students driving to nearby Crescenta Valley High School, and commuters on their way to work.
On Sept. 12 at about 7:40 a.m., a woman traveling westbound on Prospect at La Crescenta avenues reportedly drove through a red light and stopped halfway through the intersection. The crossing guard blew his whistle to warn other drivers and pedestrians of the obstruction. According to a witness, vehicles traveling north- and southbound honked and drove around the woman’s vehicle. After apparently realizing she had driven through a red light during the busiest time of the day, she put her vehicle in reverse and traveled eastbound attempting to get back to the corner. According to the witness, traffic swerved around her vehicle and luckily there was no collision.
Officer Phil Cooper has seen a lot of problems near La Crescenta Elementary School.
“Drivers will make U-turns mid-La Crescenta Avenue,” he said about drivers traveling northbound who want to drop their child off in front of the school. “They also pull into the driveway at the school that is used for delivery trucks.”
The driveway is just south of the school and is used by Glendale Unified School District delivery trucks. Drivers pull into the driveway causing delivery trucks to circle the block, sometimes several times. Drivers cause additional problems when they attempt to back onto La Crescenta Avenue.
A mom could be seen walking her two young children to school via Prospect Avenue. She said she was very concerned about the traffic and her young son said he watched a runner almost get hit by a car.
“The runner put his hand on the car and pushed it,” said the elementary school student.
On Friday, it was easy to see why traffic was so congested – and dangerous –around La Crescenta Elementary. In less than an hour, cars in the school’s drop-off lane had backed up when a parent stopped her car to get out and talk to someone on the sidewalk. Irritated drivers sped up and down the street and a crossing guard came close to getting hit when a vehicle turned left toward the crosswalk he was standing in.
“People don’t slow down,” said Johnny Brookbank, a nearby resident.
He has seen traffic issues of all kinds in the three years he has lived on Prospect.
“I want to believe [the speeders] are students but I am afraid it is drivers who have been driving longer and should know better,” he added.
He said the street is difficult to navigate because there are no sidewalks on the north side; he said he is torn about whether he wants them or not. Many neighborhoods in La Crescenta do not have sidewalks, which for many is just part of the charm of the town.
Speed bumps were installed on Prospect Avenue between Rosemont and La Crescenta avenues, but that doesn’t seem to slow traffic down, Brookbank said. He added maybe a different design of speed bump might help but he is not sure.
“I don’t have a solution,” he said. “I deal with this traffic all day. We have 23 kids who live in this neighborhood.”
He has put out a yellow sign that reminds drivers that children are playing in the area and asks drivers to slow down, but even that has caused a problem. A driver, apparently while trying to drive around the speed bump, almost hit the yellow sign. The driver yelled at Brookbank because the sign almost damaged his car.
“I would rather have him hit the sign than one of my kids,” he said.
Rosemont Middle School is another traffic problem area.
Drivers make U-turns mid-Rosemont Avenue, speeding and dropping students off in non-drop-off designated areas.
“Some drivers don’t realize the speed limit is 25 [miles per hour],” Officer Cooper said.
At one point on Monday a driver traveling northbound on Rosemont started to make a U-turn by driving around a no stopping sign. But apparently, after seeing Officer Cooper, the driver partially backed into a driveway and turned left. This was to drop his child off on the school side of the street. This action caused a traffic jam as vehicles both north- and southbound had to wait for the maneuver to be completed. The driver received a citation for an illegal U-turn.
There were many citations given out to drivers on Friday and Monday, about 20 in total, for a variety of violations, from speeding to not wearing a seatbelt.
As Rosemont Middle School’s first morning bell rang, CHP officers drove up to Monte Vista Elementary just before students began their day and gave yet another citation for speeding.
Although some drivers who went home with a citation were not too happy seeing CHP near the schools, the administrators, crossing guards, parents and students were all smiles and waves as the officers helped ensure that traffic ran smoothly.
When asked what is the number one thing drivers could do to keep their kids safe at school drop-off and pickup times, Officer Cooper had one simple answer: “People just need to give themselves enough time.”