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A small step towards improving pedestrian safety

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Posted at 4:03 PM, Jan 17, 2024
  • Video shows traffic in front of Norris Middle School, where a crosswalk is placed to and from the school.
  • Starting this year, Assembly Bill 413 prohibits parking or stopping a vehicle along a curb at least 20 feet from a marked crosswalk or 15 feet from a curb where an extension is present.
  • Andrea Gebhardt said while improving safety at the state level is a good thing, she believes real change won't happen until it comes at the local level starting with more safety precautions and enforcement.

Pedestrian deaths in California are 25% higher than the national average. Now, the state is trying to improve pedestrian safety with a new law pertaining to crosswalks.

Starting this year, Assembly Bill 413 prohibits parking or stopping a vehicle along a curb at least 20 feet from a marked crosswalk or 15 feet from a curb where an extension is present.

However, this law gives little comfort to some parents when it comes to the most important crosswalk in their life: the one to their child's school.

"As a parent, it's really concerning, as a community member it's highly alarming," said Andrea Gebhardt, speaking about the traffic near her children's school, Norris Middle School.

Gebhardt takes student safety to heart as a former school administrator and parent. That's why she says it's what she sees every day when her children go to school that frightens her.

"[Drivers] not paying attention, they're distracted, they're running late," she said. "There's just a blinking light, there's no stop sign. I've even seen the crossing guard lay the stop sign on the hood of a car to get it to stop."

While this new regulation is meant to improve overall pedestrian safety and visibility in the golden state, Gebhardt feels like in her neighborhood, it's not the parked cars that worry her.

"The minute the crossing guard gets across, he turns his back and starts walking his line of sight changes, and the drivers just automatically think the crosswalk situation is over and it's just crazy," she said.

Over the years, Gebhardt said she's seen some improvements like the addition of a second crosswalk warning light, but with new housing developments and businesses being added to the area, she worries traffic along Norris Road will only get busier.

"I feel like that's just a bandaid on a bigger problem that needs to be addressed," she said. "I don't want kids to be nervous to cross the street, I don't want the crossing guards to feel like their job is a huge risk, and I really want our drivers in our community to wake up and pay attention because kids' lives are at stake."

Gebhardt said while improving safety at the state level is a good thing, she believes real change won't happen until it comes at the local level starting with more safety precautions and enforcement.


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