The recent tragic death of the driver of another runaway truck on Kanan Road crashing at PCH has everyone wondering why the driver didn’t use the gravel arrester bed. Traversing Kanan Dume every day I counted 14 major yellow-and-black signs announcing “Runaway Vehicle Escape Median X Miles.” The one closest to the median also says, “Merge Left.” At Newton Canyon before entering the tunnel westbound, there is the standard black-and-white sign depicting a truck with a red, diagonal slash through it stating no vehicle with more than two axles allowed past this point. Depending on the sun’s position and the relative small size of the letters on all the signs, it can be difficult to read them from any distance.
Now I wonder, when one finds that he has no brakes and gaining speed down a long grade, he would be in a panic made unable to think. Would he comprehend “Escape Median?” How many of us know what a median is and react accordingly? And what if you haven’t had much schooling or don’t know English well? Why “merge left” if you are out of control would be my thinking. And who would be reading signs if he is deathly scared?
Additional large lettered signs reading “No Brakes — Drive Into Gravel Before Signal At PCH” or “Brakes Gone? — Gravel Pit Ahead Will Stop Vehicle.” A larger sign with a lighted arrow pointing to the gravel would also help. There are probably better warnings than these. Other possibilities: “No Brakes — Don’t Panic — Deep Gravel Ahead.” “Follow Signs To Gravel Braking Pit.” Even though it is illegal for trucks to use the downhill section of Kanan, it does happen and we should try to prevent an even greater tragedy if a truck hits several cars on PCH.