Accidents happen. Car accidents happen. But recently, the frequency of accidents right outside the front gates at the intersection of LMU Drive and Lincoln Boulevard has indicated that parking might not be LMU’s only motor vehicle-related problem.
While the Department of Public Safety (DPS) is not required to file reports regarding traffic accidents that happen off campus, there have been six reported incidents outside the front gates over the course of the fall and spring semesters so far, with four of those accidents taking place in January, according to DPS Chief Hampton Cantrell.
There have been three two-car collisions, two single vehicle accidents and one incident involving a car and a pedestrian, which happened on Jan. 9, just days before the spring semester commenced, that were documented by DPS.
According to the Argonaut Online article “Victim of hit-and-run crash near LMU dies of his injuries,” 62-year-old Paul Kevin Grover was hit at 4:15 a.m. by a southbound car that veered off Lincoln Boulevard on an early-morning jog. Grover died the next day at UCLA Medical Center from the injuries he sustained. The driver of the car fled the scene, according to police reports
This tragic incident was soon followed by three other within the span of about three weeks, which begs the question: Why, exactly, are these accidents occurring?
“The speed of cars traveling on Lincoln, especially northbound, appears to be a major factor,” said Cantrell.
Cars zooming northward on Lincoln Boulevard tend to pick up speed just as the road curves past LMU; this quick descent, coupled with L.A. traffic, rushed drivers and a busy stoplight could contribute to these accidents.
“The part of Lincoln that extends north of Manchester is pretty wide and open, and honestly, functions like a freeway, or at least that’s how many people treat it,” said sophomore finance major Tim Nguyen. “It’s not uncommon to see people cruising by going faster than 60 or 70 miles an hour; throw in heavy pedestrian traffic at times, cars parked on the street and a curved road, and bam — accident-prone area.”
Cantrell also suggested that hurried and distracted driving is probably a contributing factor as well, and he advised members of the LMU community to pay close attention.
“We are strongly advising staff and students, particularly those who park on West Bluff and walk across the street, to be aware of the risks of this intersection,” said Cantrell. “Actually, they should not park there at all because of these safety concerns, in my opinion.”
In general, Cantrell maintains that “good situational awareness is critical,” imploring students to pay attention to the speed at which cars travel down Lincoln Boulevard in order to make good judgment calls when it comes to turning in and out of the campus.
“Don’t just assume that because the light has changed, it’s safe to proceed,” said Cantrell.
While student and faculty cooperation is a start to help solve the problem of car accidents occurring right outside LMU’s front entrance – what Cantrell referred to as a “developing trend” – DPS and LMU’s Community Relations are working together to spread awareness and institute further efforts. As they move forward, they plan to involve the City Council office, the neighboring community, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, according to Cantrell.
“The idea is to explore whether traffic mitigation measures such as flashing lights, additional signs, street improvements will help reduce the number of traffic collisions at this intersection,” said Cantrell.
With Councilman Mike Bonin requesting the restriction of LMU’s back gates, Cantrell suggested that the potential for increased pedestrian and vehicle traffic on Lincoln Boulevard should be “an important consideration” – a point that was addressed in the resolution put forth by the Associated Students of LMU (ASLMU) Senate opposing Bonin’s proposal.
Just this past Friday, a two-car collision occurred at the front gates. From neighborhood tensions to a lack of on-campus parking and now a trend of accidents just outside the gates of LMU, cars in the LMU community seem to be an issue that’s not going away anytime soon.