09 April 2013

Left Turns Do Happen on Carbon Canyon Road

For maybe the sixth or seventh time in the nine years residing in Carbon Canyon, an emergency action had to be implemented this afternoon to avoid being plowed into by a driver on Carbon Canyon Road who was not prepared for someone wanting to make a left turn.

Now, much of the left turn actions along the state highway are assisted by dedicated turn lanes, such as those entering the various subdivisions (Summit Ranch, Carriage Hills, Western Hills Oaks, Oak Tree Downs and Estates, Olinda Village and Olinda Ranch) and those accessing Western Hills Country Club and the mobile home tract behind it.  Even the 1920s neighborhood of Mountain View Estates has a turn lane onto Canon Lane, south of the roadway.

Well, most of it, as a few houses have direct access onto Carbon Canyon Road and left turns westbound are made directly from the road.  This is also the case for the several residents of Red Apple Lane, which is a little to the west and for the two residences in Brea just east of the old La Vida Mineral Springs property.

And, it is the case for Sleepy Hollow, where there are 130 houses and people need to turn directly from the road westbound onto the two entrances off Rosemary Lane on the south side of the neighborhood, as well as from the eastbound side onto Hillside Drive and Oak Way Lane to the north.

The problem, especially for the Rosemary Lane intersection at the east end of the neighborhood, is that westbound left turns come after some pretty sharp curves.  If someone is directly behind a driver preparing to turn, an advance notice with a turn signal and some brake-tapping generally (though not always) lets said follower know that, indeed, left turns are sometimes made on the highway.

When, however, a driver (as in today's example) is already stopped and waiting to make the turn onto Rosemary, especially when it is "rush hour" and eastbound traffic is heavy, then it is essential that said driver keep their eyes fixed on the rear view mirror and watching carefully for anyone hitting those curves behind at a speed that indicates that there is no thought of someone ahead waiting (and, often, for a loooong time) to make that turn.

So, earlier, this driver kept eyes glued to the mirror and saw an old tan half-ton pickup racing along and showing no sign of slowing down.  Already the foot had shifted from the brake to the accelerator, courtesy of memory and experience, before the squealing of tires and the fishtailing commenced.

Consequently, this driver was already moving forward when the pickup driver made the late effort to stop--it would have been a collision (into a car whose rear bumper had just, within the month, been repaired from a self-inflicted injury of a few years back.)  Caution, care and defensive driving saved the moment!

Now, racing through the curves on Carbon Canyon Road in Sleepy Hollow is a time-honored tradition of decades--there isn't a day (or, often, late at night) where the tire squealing and muffler roaring isn't heard.  And, usually, no one is stopped waiting to turn left when this happens.

That's called "playing the odds."  Until someone does get hit.  For this driver, this has almost happened the aforementioned six or seven times.  Not a lot over nine years, but any one of those could have proved disastrous or, at the very least, extraordinarily inconvenient.

Something could actually be done, though. 

For example, rumble strips could be placed in a few spots along the roadway in Sleepy Hollow, such as in the first little downturn westbound as drivers approach one of the world's largest street signs, warning of curves and recommending a 25 mph pace (cheerfully ignored by too many, in any event.)

And, then again, before the turn onto Rosemary, where today's near-collision almost took place.

Eastbound, probably just over the county line or anywhere approaching the Hillside/Rosemary intersection.  And, maybe again in the sharp curves approaching the second Rosemary intersection.  And, maybe even again in the further sharp curves heading towards the east end of Sleeph Hollow.

CalTrans invested a lot of money in its recent improvements to Carbon Canyon Road in Brea.  New and replaced guardrails, new centerline striping with ruts to warn wandering wayfarers, etc. etc.  All great stuff.

But, that's Division 12 from the Orange County side.  Maybe the folks at Division 8 on the San Bernardino County side, who usually are quick to respond, repair and replace on their portion of the state highway, might consider rumble strips in Sleepy Hollow, where the turns are among the tightest and dangerous in the canyon (excepting, of course, the S-curve at Carriage Hills/Summit Ranch, which might call for their own remedies, as well.)

It would cost money, sure, and times are tough, certainly, for these kinds of improvements. 

Then, there's the idea of more frequent patrols.  There used to be more a few years back, usually in the morning at Canon Lane or the shuttered Canyon Market, maybe in the afternoon, too.

Even those infrequent and strangely timed visits have pretty much gone the way of the dodo, though?

But, if it comes to public safety, wouldn't it be worth it to consider both and whatever else might be feasible?

Maybe our city and state reps, including two council members (of five) who live in the Canyon, and an assembly member from Chino Hills, could make the suggestion?

Or, we just keep "playing the odds."

And, keep our eyes carefully peeled to our rear view mirrors, for those who have to make those left turns.


Anonymous said...

I agree! Have lived in the area for about 8 years, and a few years ago decided to make it Rule that, driving toward Sleepy Hollow from Brea, I automatically slow to 30 or so, regardless of traffic or time of day, directly before entering Sleepy Hollow.
When I drive through the Hollow (either direction -- I slow down to 35 on entering the curves), no matter the temptation, speed is limited to 35 max. Period.

I sure do enjoy your website!

prs said...

Hi Anonymous, thanks for the comment. To add to this, I was driving westbound up Carbon Canyon Road toward Olinda Village on Thursday morning and two cars passed another on the opposite side, the second coming within maybe 50 yards of me as they used the left turn lane onto Olinda Drive as their passing lane. Somehow, fewer accidents happen than you'd think given how many incidents like that take place. Thanks for the comment and glad you like the blog!