Drivers cited for speeding around the curve at the intersection of El Colegio and Storke Roads will pay a doubled fine – nearly $200 – as a result of new ordinance aimed at enhancing pedestrian safety in Santa Barbara County school zones.
Since Sept. 2, the California Highway Patrol has increased patrols and enforcement of traffic regulations around all county elementary, middle and high schools, including Isla Vista Elementary School, which is located on El Colegio Road directly across from the south tower of Francisco Torres Residence Hall.
During morning arrival and afternoon dismissal hours, crowds of young students walk or ride bikes within crosswalks that span the busy El Colegio roadway.
Francis Santamaria, who has served as the school’s crossing guard for the past two years, said the corner is “very dangerous” for the many children in the area. However, she has not witnessed an accident there involving an elementary school student.
“If [drivers] see the kids in the middle of the street they won’t stop,” Santamaria said. “They still keep on going.”
Santamaria said that driver speed is definitely the main problem at the corner she guards, but that no one group – students or parents – is more responsible for the dangerous driving she observes.
The ordinance arises from Assembly Bill 1886, which allows counties or cities to increase or double traffic fines in school zones. In addition, the bill, authored by 35th District Assemblywoman Hannah-Beth Jackson, also mandates that extra income generated by tickets “…be used exclusively to pay for the cost of school pedestrian-bicyclist safety programs…”
If the county already jointly funds these types of safety classes with local schools, the bill mandates that any new funds supplement rather than “… supplant any existing expenditures for those purposes.”
“The public needs to be aware that school is back in session and to slow down when passing schools when children are present,” CHP Officer Don Clotworthy said in a statement. “Our primary concern is the safety of children coming to and from school and our best way of ensuring this safety is strict compliance and enforcement of the 25 mph school zone speed.”
But Santamaria does not think stiffer fines or safety classes are going to solve the safety problem.
“Sometimes [the kids] just run into the street,” she said. “Kids are kids.”