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Student/Pedestrian Car Accident Renews Concerns About Traffic Safety

Sep 20, 2022 03:12PM ● By Jeanne Fratello
A car-pedestrian accident on Monday at 2nd and Peck Avenue in Manhattan Beach involved two Pennekamp Elementary School students. Although the students experienced only minor injuries, the accident has renewed concerns about traffic safety, especially in school areas.

The students were crossing in the pedestrian crosswalk with a crossing guard present when they were hit by the car.

A crossing guard on site said that the car did not stop at all at the crosswalk.

According to an email sent to parents by Principal Sharon Witzansky, "Emergency services were immediately contacted and luckily there were only minor injuries. The students’ parents were contacted immediately and were able to get to the site right away to assist their children."

Witzansky continued, "While we are fortunate that this event did not result in serious injury, it is an important reminder to all of us about how important it is to take care when driving, especially around school campuses, and when walking to and from school."

An MBUSD spokesperson confirmed on Wednesday morning that, following the accident, "Everyone is doing fine."

A police spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

Stop Means...Go?

Nevertheless, the incident reinforced a concern that many residents have with traffic safety across Manhattan Beach, especially in school zones. 

In the Sand Section near downtown, resident Tom Williams has been creating a series of videos (Video 1, Video 2, Video 3) of dozens of cars blasting through the stop sign at 6th and Valley, which happens to be one of the intersections where walkers and bikers cross the Greenbelt from the Hill Section on their way to Robinson Elementary School or to the beach.

The videos would almost be comical for how many cars completely ignore the stop sign, if the situation weren't so dangerous.

At least one video from Williams shows a car going 48 miles per hour through the intersection without stopping.

"Pick any point of time and wait 15 minutes and you will need both hands to count the number of people speeding and blowing through stop signs," wrote Williams in a petition he has launched to call for tighter traffic controls at the intersection. 

Williams told MB News that since he started creating the videos, he has seen an increased amount of enforcement in the area, with "more police on 6th and Valley in the past two months then the past 10 years."

Additionally, he said, the city came out on Tuesday and repainted and re-stripped the stop sign line.

However, Williams says he is looking for further traffic reinforcements such as speed bumps or traffic diversions such as chicanes (artificial turns or obstacles in the road that force drivers to slow down). There is no speed limit sign on Valley Drive anywhere between Manhattan Beach Blvd. and 6th St., he added.

Earlier, the hit-and-run death of a family dog on 1st Street in East Manhattan Beach in 2020 inspired the "#ChewieStrong" campaign, with signs appearing all over town urging drivers to slow down.

Traffic/Pedestrian Safety Encouraged

Witzansky shared the following safety precautions for students and adults who are walking to school:
  • If possible, always safely cross the street with a crossing guard
  • Do not walk through parking lots
  • Use the pathways around the parking lot and around the vehicle driving lanes in the parking lot
  • Look both ways and be aware of traffic
  • Do not be distracted
  • Stay away from cars and busy roads
Additionally, she reminded drivers to:
  • Look out for pedestrians everywhere
  • Slow down and be prepared to stop when turning or entering a crosswalk
  • Yield to pedestrians in crosswalks and stop well back from the crosswalk lines
  • Never pass vehicles stopped at a crosswalk
  • Follow slower speed limits in school zones, around parks and in neighborhoods
  • Be extra cautious when backing up

"I am asking that all families remind their students of these important guidelines, that we all make sure to always stay alert, and to use extreme caution when walking and driving around the school zone, especially when driving in areas where students may be present before and after school hours," she wrote to parents.

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