At a meeting to address last month's fatal accident at Moulton Parkway and Nueva Vista Road, the city's Traffic Commission on Wednesday recommended stepping up enforcement in the area and examining possible safety measures.
The recommendations, which will be forwarded to the City Council, came after pleas from victim Mara Steves' husband, John, and other residents who said they hope something good can come from the tragedy.
However, the city's traffic engineer said that the intersection was safe and that no changes were needed.
, 48, was killed at the intersection Feb. 13 in a crash that is still being investigated by the O.C. Sheriff's Department. She was kneeling on the sidewalk after corralling a dog when two cars crashed and one hit her, according to Sheriff's Department officials.
"I don't want this to happen to any other family—the way it's torn our family apart," Steves' husband told the commission. "If you could make the streets safer to avoid this in the future, that would be an amazing thing. I don't know what you can do—street signs, turn lanes, anything, something."
The meeting began with a report from Dave Rogers, director of and a traffic engineer.
Although the collision is still under investigation, the preliminary finding was that one vehicle ran a red light, he said.
Rogers ruled out malfunctioning traffic lights. "All traffic signals are equipped with a conflict monitor that prevents traffic signals from giving simultaneous greens," he said. "This is why we can conclude with near certainty that no two conflicting drivers had a green at the same time."
He also noted that city traffic signals are set "with at least one full second of all red—where the light in all directions is red to allow people a little more time to get through the intersection. "It is really designed to allow for driver error."
A Safe Intersection?
According to city data, the intersection has historically been very safe, Rogers said.
Between 2004 and 2009, there were four reported collisions at that intersection. "The collision rate of 0.10 per million entering vehicles is low, even by our own standards," he said.
Based on the intersection's history, Rogers said, no changes should be made.
"We do believe that the collision ... was just that—a random collision—and that there are no unusual patterns that would suggest that we do a more in-depth review," Rogers said.
Some residents disagreed. Elizabeth Von Gremp, the Steveses' neighbor, told commissioners, "Mara and I would complain about how fast some of the drivers would drive through our streets. Having lived above this intersection, we both knew how dangerous it could be."
Von Gremp said Mara Steves' was not the first fatality at the intersection. "In 2002, a student lost her life while crossing Moulton on Rancho Niguel Road," she said. "She was trying to catch a bus, and someone had run a red light. This is now the second death that has happened on this short stretch of road in front of my home. Can't we do something to stop this from happening? ... Please do something to make it safe for us—to not have to live in fear."
Resident Richard Swanson asked the commission to consider speed bumps for Nueva Vista Road.
"That road between these two Indy 500 speedways—between Moulton and Crown Valley—is Nueva Vista. Cars are racing ... all the time." he said.
Resident Sam June said he was concerned about right turns in the area.
"I don't know of any place where you can make a right-hand turn on red into 50 mph traffic," June said. "This is an area between Crown Valley and Aliso Creek where we have had many accidents.
The Traffic Commission voted unanimously to recommend to the City Council to increase traffic enforcement in the area and add radar trailers "as time, equipment and personnel permits." The commission also suggested a review of overall traffic conditions on Moulton Parkway, including visibility issues as motorists turn right onto the street from Nueva Vista when they have a red light.
John Steves spoke at the end of the meeting, leaving many residents and the commissioners choked up.
"We moved our family here when our kids were babies because it was a safe neighborhood," he said. "They are 13 and 14 years old now, and they don't have a mother."