15 January 2010

A Little Exchange about the Art of Navigating Carbon Canyon Road

There was the following comment to the 3 January post about the DUI driver who took a slight detour on Carbon Canyon Road in Sleepy Hollow the day before that seemed worth giving some attention to. Courtesy of "Anonymous":

I live in Sleepy Hollow and wish Carbon Canyon were a toll road with a special resident access pass given to those who live inside Carbon Canyon and very close to it, though I know that will never happen (and probably couldn't, at least practically).

I absolutely do not want more traffic enforcement inside Carbon Canyon Road, since police officers would most likely target people who drive over the speed limit more than any other group. I've found that the worst and most dangerous drivers are usually not those who drive over the speed limit, but those who drive timidly and apply their breaks at most of the curves. This foolish breaking combined with the many drivers who are bound to tailgate such vehicles is most certainly an accident risk. Even without tailgating, breaking at curves may cause one to lose control of his or her vehicle. Hence I wonder how many of these accidents throughout the canyon that you write about are caused by timid drivers breaking and sharply turning the wheel once the car starts to lose control, and not excessive speed or intoxication like you assume.

Furthermore complaints of drivers going too fast through the canyon are what lead to absurd reductions in speed limits (which we saw on the Chino Hills side of Carbon Canyon Road several months ago, though luckily the speed limit was soon raised), and an excuse for more speed traps. Hell, complaints about drivers driving too fast probably contributed to that unfortunate traffic signal installation at Olinda Village and the mobile home park, which I pray will not worsen traffic too much.

In regard to drunk drivers, officers already heavily patrol around Shamrock's in Chino Hills and The Shady Nook in Brea, which are the nearest bars to Sleepy Hollow. Sometimes I see a patrol car sitting at Olinda Village, and have often seen patrol cars between the hours of 11:00 pm and 2:00 am near the eastbound entrance to Carbon Canyon Road. I wouldn't object to officers patroling the entrance to the westbound side of Carbon Canyon more than they do, but don't want a police presence inside the canyon. After all, even with a patrol car's flashing lights it may be hard to see a pulled over vehicle inside the winding canyon, which would pose a safety issue.

To which, moi responds:

  • Agreed that there are people who drive too slowly and brake every fifty feet on CC Road. Highly annoying!

  • To say, however, the people are "bound" to tailgate implies that it is inevitable and, applying that logic another way, that people are "bound" to be timid. The difference: it violates the vehicle code to tailgate (or, on SR 142, pass, another aggressive behavior we see frequently) but there is no minimum speed limit (though we might want one!) Tonight, a vertically imposing truck was riding my posterior because I had the audacity to drive 50 mph in a 45 zone. It had nothing to do with timidity and everything to do with stupidity (clever, no?) on my tailgating friend's part. It seems he (or, perhaps but not likely, she) got home to Olinda Village fifteen seconds slower than he (she?) would have if I hadn't been speeding so slowly. Highly dangerous!

  • Moreover, look at the damage to guard rails, power poles, reflectors and signs, and fencing; observe the bumper pieces and license plates and other debris; and then note the very long skid marks along many sections of the road. I would readily eat my hat (though my words would have to do) if these were from timid drivers rather than speeders and others driving too agreesively or chemically impaired.

  • On enforcement--if there is someone pulled over, it is to be expected that officers will instruct that person to do so in a safe area. More importantly, if police patrols aren't looking for speeders, what are they supposed to be looking for? Someone weaving (cell phone call, texting, applying makeup, drunk, high), OK. Tailgating, sure. Someone driving too timidly? Not so much.

  • As it is, drivers have virtually free reign to do whatever they want anyway, because there is little enforcement on CC Road. If there are others who can correct otherwise, so be it, but last time I talked to the current Chino Hills city manager he stated that there were two usual patrol times, around 9:30 a.m. and about 4 p.m, precisely when the worst driving behavior does not happen. Is it more preferable to have patrols on weekend evenings or just evenings generally when engines are roaring and tires squealing? Or should it just be accepted that people are "bound" to do that too and that no mitigation be attempted at all?

  • Finally, the post to which "Anonymous" commented was a DUI by someone who went off the road at high speed. This was the flip side (almost literally) of timidity. I have not seen a checkpoint on CC Road directly, but would gladly have them if it would potentially save the lives of some innocent people on the road and, yes, even the life of the person who decides to drive the highway drunk or high.

By the by, a response to the e-mail sent to the City Council on the 3rd was received on the 5th with an attachment that said Chino Hills city manager tried to contact moi on 14 December, but typed in the wrong e-mail address. So much for my snide little comment about him being too busy to contact me after my 30 November broadside to said Council. That really was unnecessary and unfair.

I will respond that the offer to discuss is appreciated (and it is), but that there is really no more to say and nothing changed from our last discussion from three or so years ago. It's up to the city whether to act or not, and I suspect that "Anonymous" will get what he/she asks for; that is, no additional enforcement or demonstrative action. Excepting, perhaps, if an innocent person gets killed by a dangerous driver.

Besides, if the dustup over the Council's vote to remove Roman Nava as a Parks and Recreation Commissioner because Councilman Art Bennett evidently publicly stated that Nava's interest in running for the Council later this year is tantamount to a vote of no confidence in that body's incumbents gets any more heated, the City will have enough on its hands between now and election day!


Zaphod said...

Ahhhh! If only these were the good old days! Then we could have all of the Canyon Boys gather up all of the beer cans that the passers-through have ejected from their cars (we were once called "Beer Can Canyon" by the Chino Champion)and have them stack the cans six high on the back side of every curve on the road. The people driving slow through the Canyon have long memories.

Zaphod said...

Oh! BY the way. In the mid-1950s, the Canyon was continually patroled at night time, sometimes two cars at a time. The Canyon Boys provided some entertainment for them as well, all in good fun,of course.

David said...

I do not like tailgaters. I usually cruise at 50 when I'm driving in through the canyon and I will always have a Yuppie on my @ss.I think people just dont like to have someone in front of them.and no on the Toll Road I freakin Hate those. I will be driving on the 91 and I will be approaching the 71 to head to chino.Then the 241 and the 91 toll road drivers cut in line all at that one point and i'm sitting there for 20 minutes. I hate toll roads.
Sorry for being so negative...Hehe

Anonymous said...

How does the person that spoke about slow drivers suppose a person is supposed to make a turn onto any of the side streets without slowing down? Also if I choose to drive the speed limit I would appreciate it if I did not have someone tailgating me. I would definitely appreciate a police presence in the Canyon we pay taxes just like everyone else and deserve to have the peace and safety of the Canyon maintained.

Anonymous said...

Please... Speeding in and of itself is not necessarily that dangerous. When the speed limit dropped unreasonably from 45 to 35 a few months ago, does that mean it would have been dangerous to continue to drive 45? Of course not. That drop in the speed limit probably resulted from both residents complaining that the cars drive too fast through the canyon, and a money-hungry government looking for more revenue from traffic citations.

Also, realistically officers are not likely to pull over tailgaters in the canyon, whether or not there is a police presence. They're likely to pull over people who ARE in fact driving safely, but happen to be going several mph over the speed limit (and I already established that driving the speed limit does not necessarily mean driving more safely, especially in comparison to a hesitant, timid driver who does drive at or under the speed limit). Though I'm sure tailgaters have been cited in the canyon, it's easier and safer to pull over someone who is not being tailgated (someone who is speeding) then it is to pull over someone in a long line of tailgaters. People (including officers) are bound to tailgate, and a police presence won't change that. Also, most people tailgate during rush hour, yet I almost never see accidents at that time... Bumpers on the side of the road do not necessarily mean accidents caused by tailgating.

Furthermore I don't deny drunk driving happens, but if the drivers are drunk, why do you think they would be reasonable about where they pull over. When the car to be cited pulls over, the officer stops his vehicle too. Sober drivers may choose poor places to pull over also, just from anxiety resulting from the situation. Thus it would be better and safer for officers to look for drunk and dangerous drivers near the entrances to the canyon, as I mentioned last time.

Anonymous said...

I'm a little surprised at the comment one of the posters left about my post... If a driver who is speeding has to make a turn, then of course he or she signals, breaks prior to the turn, and makes sure his or her vehicle is in the proper gear. Breaking during curves can be very dangerous; it is actually safer to accelorate or lay off the gas coming into a curve than it is to break during one.

Most drivers slow up around Olinda Village and the mobile home parks (I certainly do since the speed limit is 45 and the visibility is poor for those residents). Now they're getting a traffic signal. It's not that hard for competent drivers to turn into and out of most other communities, either because visibility is good or drivers are forced to slow down drastically by the curve of the road. Even Sleepy Hollow isn't bad once you get a sense of timing for the oncoming traffic, and it's even easier at night when you can see headlights from oncoming traffic before you actually see the vehicles. I think the people who have it worst are those who must turn into or directly from the parking areas of their homes. If I see someone who needs to get out or make a turn during rush hours, I will stop traffic to let them do so, as will many others.

Anonymous said...

Some more thoughts, since I was tired last night and didn't explain this well enough:

1) People have already died on the canyon. Luckily fatalities are rare. It's a winding, poorly lit road with only one lane in each direction; it is very easy for incompetent (not necessarily speeding or impaired) drivers to lose control of their vehicles, especially at night when it gets foggy and oncoming vehicles have blindingly bright lights.

2) I frequently drive the canyon at times when drunk drivers are most likely to be on the road, and have NEVER seen anyone driving who appeared to be impaired (though I have seen lots of incompetent drivers). I have seen police officers on the scene of accidents in the canyon at that time, I don't KNOW those accidents were caused by speed or intoxication.

3) As I mentioned a few days ago, officers DO heavily patrol the nearest bars to the canyon, and the Brea police patrol near the canyon's Brea entrance. Chino Hills Parkway is not usually patrolled at night at the canyon's entrance, but is patrolled by the 71 and Shamrock's (a bar on Chino Hills Parkway). So, steps are already being taken to catch impaired driving before any person or property gets hurt.

4) But you might say, "It's not enough." OK, well look at downtown Fullerton and Brea. Those areas are swarming with cops. Yet, accidents and fatalities still happen. So do drunk driving, speeding, and tailgating. A strong police presence is not a cure-all, and may not even significantly reduce unsafe driving.

5) I agree that Carbon Canyon needs to be preserved. As I indicated last time, too many people use the road as a shortcut. These people take their bad driving off of the freeways and onto a road that was never meant to handle all that traffic. They carelessly toss their trash out of their windows, and most certainly contribute to air and water pollution. Housing developments only contribute to the problem, and the city of Chino Hills profits from it. So I certainly wouldn't trust the city to preserve the canyon, though do trust the city to profit from more traffic citations that do little, if anything, to help.