Street safety issues raised by Pines parents

They are MARD and they aren't going to take it anymore.

The Del Mar Pines School parents who make up Mothers Against Reckless Drivers (MARD) have been busy this past month, trying to tackle the speeding issue facing Torrington Street that's home to the small private school and the back exit for Torrey Pines High School students and parents.

While Dianne Austin-Wist, Del Mar Pines student development director, said speeding has always been a problem on the street, the situation became critical last month when a Torrey Pines parent was nearly hit by a car.

After the incident, MARD took to the streets, armed with cameras and video cameras, targeting student speeders and sending their plate numbers off to their principal.

Senior volunteers from the police department also came out to clock speeds.

"Our intent is not to impede a teenager being a teenager," said Austin-Wist. "We just would really like for everybody to be safe."

Ann Clifton, who picks her granddaughters up from school three times a week, said that the speeding situation during pick-up time has improved since the MARD enforcement.

"I think it's really worked out well," said Clifton. "I think the high school kids really know what's going on finally."

Lunch rush

While after-school pick-ups have been noticeably calmer, Austin-Wist said there are still issues with lunchtime.

The school has already altered its arrival and departure times around the high school's schedule, but when a Del Mar Pines early release day and a Torrey Pines lunch hour collide, it's "mayhem," she said.

Students have a 30-minute window to grab a lunch, and Austin-Wist said they are always in a rush, speeding and passing on the left and right on the two-way street.

Speed trap

Torrington Street serves as the only exit from the back of the high school. Promptly at 2:30 p.m., the students come streaming out of school and into their cars, queuing up in the parking lot for the lone stop sign waiting to pull out onto two-lane Torrington. They often have their windows down and music pumping.

The small, 154-student Del Mar Pines campus is just a few blocks away from the high school exit, on a curve in the road, making visibility for those crossing the street difficult.

When drivers are speeding, it makes it worse, said Austin-Wist.

At 3:05, Del Mar Pines' adjusted end of school time, the staff directs a streamlining system where a team of students in orange vests helps each child to their cars, even placing their backpacks into back seats and trunks for them.

"We're here to help kids get safely into the car," said fifth grader Reed Levesque. "Safety first."

Right turn only?

Del Mar Pines has proposed doing a traffic study and testing out the possibility of making the stop sign out of Torrey Pines a right-only turn, sending students on an alternate route that doesn't pass the elementary school or driveways of homes.

Torrey Pines Principal Brett Killeen said that the traffic study could be helpful but likes the current route.

"I do have faith in the idea that we can teach our kids to slow down," said Killeen. "I've been pleased with the improvements out there. It may regress, but just our presence out there is helpful."

Killeen said that while his teenagers often shoulder the blame of bad driving, he said that it also falls to parents and other community members to also follow the rules and drive carefully through.

   
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