Is the Pacific Coast Highway Getting More Dangerous?

In Malibu, that seems to be the case

Pacific Coast Highway
An overhead view near the 21600 block of Pacific Coast Highway where four Pepperdine students were killed by a passing car.
Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Traveling on the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu allows drivers to experience one of the most scenic routes in the country. Unfortunately, it’s also increasingly putting drivers, pedestrians and cyclists at risk. That’s the biggest takeaway from a new Los Angeles Times analysis — which comes complete with data illustrating the fact that both deaths and serious injuries on the location in question rose substantially between 2011 and 2023.

All told, 170 people were killed or seriously hurt on the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu from 2011 to 2023. This is, as per the Times, “considerably worse” than the figures for comparable towns elsewhere in California.

Most recently, four Pepperdine students died while they walked down a sidewalk near the Pacific Coast Highway after a driver lost control of his vehicle and struck several parked cars. In the wake of those events, the Times reported that some residents have called for the installation of speed cameras, along with the implementation of other safety measures.

There’s a larger debate across the country over whether the rise in larger and larger vehicles has taken its toll on pedestrian safety. In a recent Opinion piece for the New York Times, Jamelle Bouie addressed the matter, writing, “The rise in pedestrian and cyclist deaths is first and foremost a product of design: design of cities, design of our streets, design of our vehicles.”

But even being mindful of these national discussions, the safety issues sparking debate in and around Malibu are more pronounced — and even more alarming. The Los Angeles Times cites State Senator Ben Allen, who called for “a broader discussion involving the re-envisioning of a highway that was established at a time when far fewer people were living along the road.” What form that discussion might take, however, remains unknown.

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