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Reckless driving during morning school hours

Original post made by Concerned neighbor, Green Acres, on Sep 12, 2006

I am concerned about the high speed and reckless driving taking place within the Green Acres neighborhood during morning school hours, particularly within the Georgia, Hubbart, Willmar, and Donald streets. These streets appear to serve as "by-passes" to Arastradero for drivers needing to go to Gunn High. I had an incident this morning in which a driver sped past us, passing on our right, and barely made a stop before turning right into Arastradero. We followed him and noted that he turned into Gunn High afterwards.

If you have kids walking to school (Juana Briones and/or Terman), please stay alert as the speed of this car was quite high, and I do not imagine this to be the last time we see this car passing by our neighborhood at such high speeds. It's a silver, late model (2006 or 2007?) Mercedes Benz E-series. I think I have the accurate license plate number, so contact me at my email address (1jacktripper at gmail) for it if it'll help you to watch out for this driver.

Be safe.

Comments (15)

Posted by Moe
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 12, 2006 at 7:16 pm

Thanks for the alert. I saw a similarly reckless driver this morning at Wilkie & Charleston... She was heading north on Wilkie and arrived at the intersection just as the light turned red. She wanted to turn left. But instead of waiting the 1-2 minutes for the light to turn green again, she turned RIGHT (which was legal, although the eastbound traffic on Charleston had just got their green light) and then did A U-TURN (!) in the middle of Charleston to head in the westward direction. Unbelievable. As others have posted on this board before, there WILL be another death at this intersection, it's only a matter of time.

For what it's worth, the driver was an Asian woman in a Honda Odyssey minivan... I think she had pulled out of a driveway on Wilkie so she probably lives near that intersection and is likely to do this again.

Posted by Tom Jacoubowsky
a resident of Gunn High School
on Sep 12, 2006 at 8:46 pm

Thank you for bringing this up. If anybody sees drivers who are driving recklessly, please get the license plate number and we will probably be able to locate the drivers.

Tom Jacoubowsky, Assistant Principal Gunn High School [email protected]

Posted by Penny Ellson
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Sep 13, 2006 at 11:40 am

Dear Mr. Jacoubowsky,

Thank you for being proactive about this safety matter! I hope the earlier writer will follow up with you.

Penny Ellson

Posted by Tom Jacoubowsky
a resident of Gunn High School
on Sep 13, 2006 at 3:01 pm

He has and we're checking our database to see if we have a match. If anybody else sees driver's driving recklessly coming to or leaving Gunn, please feel free to email me.

Tom Jacoubowsky Assistant Principal Gunn High School [email protected]

Posted by J.L.
a resident of Ventura
on Sep 13, 2006 at 5:03 pm

This is yet another good rationale for traffic and speed cameras all along the Charston-Arastradero corridor (and elsewhere). Those that put other lives in danger with their dangerous or incompetent behavior would be on tape, and in the process of receiving a summons from our police department for reckless driving.

Also, it would be prudent for oru police department to assign more patrol cars to neighborhoods adjacent to both high schools. Motorcycle patrols would be ideal.

Posted by Richard
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 13, 2006 at 10:00 pm

Much to their credit, the Palo Alto Police Department traffic team places a high priority on school safety in the morning. Unfortunately, they only have at most 3 traffic officers on duty on a weekday, and there are 5 times that many schools in the City. There have been some attempts to get patrol officers to pay extra attention to traffic issues, but I don't know how well this has worked. Most cops want to catch "real" bad guys, not just people breaking the traffic laws.

Posted by A.J.
a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 14, 2006 at 8:23 am

Thank you for posting this, Moe. Just yesterday, I saw a driver in a minivan stop at a sign on Donald and Maybell, then start through it while people (incl children) were in the middle of the intersection crossing the street! The driver didn't even appear to be looking for pedestrians until she was halfway across, she seemed just in a hurry to beat the other driver to her right through the intersection! I had not thought to look for plates, I will next time.

Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 14, 2006 at 9:18 am

My daughter, a Paly student, has told me of 2 races. The first race at Gunn is who can get down Arastadero as far as El Camino and be first at the light. The second is at Paly, who can get to In and Out Burger and back to Paly to eat their burger first. I have spoken to teachers informally about the second race and I am told that because campus is "open", they can't do anything about it. Well, I think that something should be done about it before one of our students kills someone else or themselves. These races must be stopped. If the teachers know it is going on, why don't the parents get told and then why don't the parents stop allowing the kids to drive to school.
My experience of driving teenagers is that they can drive fine when they are off school campus and commute routes, but change dramaticallly as soon as they see others they recognise from school.

Posted by another Paly parent
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 16, 2006 at 8:57 pm

We have witnessed scary driving while traveling to Paly in the morning by car and now take a roundabout route to avoid aggressive drivers, minimizing time on Embarcadero.

The main route, Embarcadero, can be worrisome with reckless drivers right on one's tail. Often these are heavy vehicles like trucks and SUVs. By contrast to what others have said, I have not generally seen teens causing any problems. Rather, these drivers are people coming in from 101 to work in Palo Alto (on Stanford campus?) and sometimes, P.A. residents who appear to be late to work, speeding DOWN Embarcadero towards 101.

An afternoon problem is if one attempts to make a (legal) left turn off Embarcadero down Churchill to head towards Paly. This is a turn that giant public school busses make, yet, there can be aggressive drivers behind you who are enraged when you put on your left-hand turn signal at that place (with sufficient notice/lead time). They just don't want to stop their massive vehicles and barrel down on you, leaning on the horn. I haven't seen anyone do this to the school bus.

I am concerned about everyone - drivers of cars, bicyclists, and pedestrians - they all have their particular risks and the best thing would be for drivers to slow down and drive more carefully.

Posted by Sgt. Sandra Brown
a resident of University South
on Sep 26, 2006 at 4:11 pm

Greetings, I appreciate all of the concerned comments to, "Reckless Driving During Morning School Hours". The original posting and each comment has been taken very seriously and the information was passed onto the Traffic Team. We actually staff seven Traffic Team members, one Motor Sergeant, five motor Officers and one team member assigned to a Traffic Car. We try to hit most of the schools during the times that kids travel to and from campuses. I found out that five tickets were written by the Traffic Sergeant in the Gunn Highschool area just today, 09/26/06. Also, during our dayshift hours, between 5:00am and 6:00pm, officers assigned to those shifts adopt an elementary school in the City. During those time periods when children are transitioning to and from school, those Patrol Officers attempt to have high visibility and will stop and issue tickets or warnings. Please keep the comments coming. We cannot be everywhere and see everything. Thanks for being our eyes and ears.

Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 26, 2006 at 7:10 pm

As a parent of a present freshman and a classmate of the two members of the class of 2006 who committed suicide on the train tracks at Chruchill, I would like to first of all congratulate everyone who dealt with the accident on Monday. For those in school, the sound of the crash and the ensuing events were extremely disturbing and knowing quickly that the accident did not involve any injuries and did not involve anyone on their way to Paly, really helped students, staff and parents feel better about the situation. For the police and emergency crews, to get the debris cleared up before school was dismissed was also excellent.

However, the reason I am writing on this thread is to remind all of us that our cars are lethal when in the wrong place at the wrong time and that the railroad in particular is a very dangerous place. All teenagers travelling on their own to Paly or Gunn who have to cross these tracks, whether walking, cycling or driving, must be aware of the dangers and reminded often of the sensible rules of crossing. Fortunately, the driver of this particular car was able to keep her cool and get out of harm's way so that she was able to walk away, even though her car wasn't. The fact that she stalled on the tracks in the first place, while not generally publicised, shows that it always makes sense to never stop on the tracks and if your exit isn't clear, don't go past the raised gates!!!!!!

Posted by r
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 27, 2006 at 4:31 pm

There's always the on-line Traffic Complaint reporting: Web Link

Posted by Paul
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Dec 5, 2006 at 8:18 am

Can someone explain why going straight on Churchill (across Alma and the RR tracks, towards Paly) is illegal in the mornings? I understand why there might be times to prohibit turning, but don't get why going straight is a problem.

Thanks, just wondering why my wife got a ticket this morning 8>(

Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Dec 5, 2006 at 9:34 am


To answer your question, I believe several years ago this was introduced as a way to reduce through traffic passing Paly during the time when students were arrriving for school. The idea is that many people use Churchill as a short cut to avoid the Embarcadero/El Camino intersection and this would prevent that.

As to whether it is a deterrant and works, or more of a nuisance, I couldn't say. But there is a lot of traffic that comes oout of Coleridge and other side roads that want to turn left at Churchill so it certainly has changed some people's habits. One strange thing about the timing is that school starts later on Wednesdays and Thursdays (for this semester) and the students don't start arriving in bulk until after the straight ahead is allowed on these mornings. It is certainly a case for looking at the wisdom of this and perhaps changing it a bit.

Posted by Parent
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 2, 2007 at 5:26 pm

Is it really true that there aren't any red-light cameras in Palo Alto? What are those small white cameras mounted on top of traffic lights with wires running from them to the lights?

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