Is this a dangerous intersection? Is Huntington Beach flirting with liability for accidents at this intersection? What can be done to prevent future accidents?
Three people were taken to the hospital after an auto accident at a seemingly dangerous Huntington Beach intersection where a similar crash had occurred March 15, killing a 14-year-old boy. In the most recent incident, two drivers and a passenger were hurt after a Ford Mustang rammed into a Toyota Camry at Bushard Street and Banning Avenue after running a stop sign, officials told The Orange County Register.
This almost seems to be a replay of the March 15 incident when an Acura loaded with teenagers ran the stop sign and crashed into another car filled with young children. Phoenix Nguyen was killed in that crash and three others were injured. Officials say the 17-year-old driver of the Mustang, who ran the stop sign, was also speeding. There are four stop signs at that intersection and the speed limit is 45 mph, but police investigating the case say the teenager was traveling at a much higher rate of speed.
The Mustang driver’s name was not released because he is a minor. The passenger of the Mustang, 56-year-old Gregory Jackson, and the Camry driver, 76-year-old Malcolm McKenzie, both suffered multiple injuries but are said to be in stable condition. The teenager only suffered minor injuries.
It’s a miracle that this accident did not have the tragic consequences the earlier accident did. We’re happy for all involved that they escaped this crash only with injuries and are expected to recover. But this accident does leave a lot of questions unanswered, the biggest of them being ‘Is this a dangerous intersection?’ If the answer to that question is yes, did the city do anything to remedy that dangerous condition?
According to neighbors, the city has not done much despite neighbors’ constant complaints. According to this article in the Register, residents say motorist miss the stop signs at that intersection because they are just not prominent. Also, it’s a quiet intersection with hardly any traffic, so motorists driving through tend to ignore the speed limits in the area. Another resident quoted in the article says the area is also notorious for street racers.
I visited the intersection today to see for myself. What I instantly noticed is the similarities between the Bushard/Banning intersection and the intersection at the heart of a case we just finished, Chan vs. City of Hanford. The approach to the intersection taken by all three of the offending drivers (the Mustang driver in the resent case, the Acura driver in the Nguyen case and the van driver in the Chan case) consisted of a very wide street with light traffic boardered by block walls about five feet from the curb line that seem to stretch off into infinity.
When approaching the intersection from the north, many of the distinguishing features that signal drivers of an upcoming intersection are not present. When approaching from the north, there is no intersection set back that accentuates the presences of an intersection. The stop sign for traffic approaching from the north is not as prominent as it could be due to a line of power poles directly in front of it as well as overhanging trees from residents on the west side.
What makes this intersection deadly is that drivers approaching from the west that stop at the stop sign can not see a vehicle approaching from the north until it is too late to avoid being slamming into. That is exactly what happened in the two most recent accidents at this intersection according to the news reports and the school crossing guard on duty at the intersection today.
So what about the five million dollar settlement in the Chan vs. City of Hanford dangerous intersection case? See tomorrow’s blog to find out.
To be continued…