Safety Woes on PCH a Mixed Bag

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Pacific Coast Highway

Longtime Malibu residents worry about what seems like an increase in local fatal accidents, fender benders, injury crashes and more on one of the area’s busiest and most dangerous highways. The Malibu Times received numerous calls over the summer that the stats seemed to be going way up over last year, but data show while some crashes are up, fatalities seem to trend down. 

Word on the streets is, driving on Pacific Coast Highway, especially between Topanga and Las Flores, is more treacherous than ever. So says long-time safety commissioner Carol Randall.

“There is certainly more concentration in our area,” Randall said. “There is a problem at the (Circle K) service station and Rambla Vista.” 

Many commuters do not realize the difference between a freeway and a residential area and can reach top speeds at 90 miles per hour or more. The recent Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department traffic report for the City of Malibu, conducted several months ago, gives a peek into PCH activity. 

Total collisions for the busy summer month of July edged up to 54 (excluding private property), up from 47 in July 2015. Fatal collisions were down by one over the same period. Pedestrian collisions have gone up to one in July 2016, compared to zero in June 2015. Injury collisions have also gone up from 15 this past June, compared to 9 the same time prior. 

DUI arrests, however, in June 2016 have gone down. There were four this June, compared to 10 over the same span in 2015.

“There are certainly more (crashes) in our area but, if you look at the Caltrans study, you’ll see that concentration of two lights there is a problem, at the [Circle K] service station — where the red stop light cannot be clearly seen by pedestrians — and complaints about Rambla Vista and Rambla Pacifico,” Randall said. 

Longtime resident Randall is familiar with the dangers of living on Pacific Coast Highway. Her 33-year old son-in law was struck by a vehicle several years ago and killed in front of her home. Randall described the young man as a “wonderful and talented composer.” 

“When they talk about speed, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are going too fast — not necessarily excessive speed, but excessive speed for that area,” Randall said. “I don’t know if there is an answer. I have always been told PCH has been an ‘F’ highway because of what it is. It is a residential street, a recreational highway, a bike lane. We are paying for enforcement and we need help.” 

Mayor Lou La Monte agreed with Randall, saying, “Malibu hasn’t grown and we’ve had a tremendous amount of visitors over the summer.” 

La Monte added that it’s a matter of implementation, after the PCH safety study was finalized last summer.

“Implementing the traffic study has a ton of improvements that will really help things on PCH,” La Monte said. “We can do better.”

Suggested improvements include light synchronization, median building and additional signage.