Students urge drivers to slow down near South Bay schools in new campaign to make streets safer

Lauren Martinez Image
Wednesday, November 15, 2023
Students urge drivers to slow down near South Bay schools
South Bay leaders and newly-licensed drivers at a Bay Area high school are helping launch a campaign to encourage safe driving near campus.

CAMPBELL, Calif. (KGO) -- Students at Westmont High School in Campbell want drivers to slow down.

On Monday afternoon, Westmont High School students who are part the school's Traffic Advisory Council partnered with the City of San Jose to launch a 'Slow Down' campaign throughout the Campbell Union High School District.

Students, parents and faculty signed the 'I drive the speed limit' pledge.

Senior Faith Gonia is the student president of Westmont's Traffic Advisory Council.

"I just got my driver's license last year and I've see both the pedestrian side, I used to walk to school, and now I see the driver's side of it," Gonia said.

MORE: 2nd 15-year-old suspect arrested in SJ hit-and-run crash that killed pregnant woman, baby: police

She described the riskiest times around the school is during drop-off and pickups.

"We'll have cars double-park along Westmont so it's really hard to just drive through and then we even have like a middle lane here that cars will speed down even though it's just supposed to be for turning. I've seen too many students who have to jump back because a driver just speeds right through," Gonia said.

Councilmember Pam Foley addressed what the city is doing to make streets safer.

The Vision Zero effort focuses on changing the infrastructure of certain streets with high accident and fatality rates.

"It's actually a huge lift because there's money that's involved there's manpower that's involved but at the end of the day there's people who are dying on our streets," Foley said.

In 2022, 8-year-old Jacob Villanueva was hit by a car and killed while walking to school with his babysitter in San Jose.

MORE: SJ residents plea for drivers to slow down after boy killed, create own traffic safety measures

They were in a crosswalk a block away from Castlemont Elementary - part of the nearby Campbell Union School District.

To make streets safer, San Jose is one of three Bay Area cities where speed cameras will be installed in high-accident areas and school zones.

"My residents in district 9 are already telling me what streets they want us to put the cameras on but the police department will have to do an analysis along with the department of transportation," Foley said.

MORE: EXCLUSIVE: SJPD steps into the crosswalk as pedestrian decoys for traffic safety

In the meantime, these high school students and new drivers themselves hope to change how people view driving.

"I think with teenagers especially there's just kind of this culture like driving is cool, driving fast is cool and it's so dangerous and you can kill someone with your car," Gonia said.

This student Traffic Advisory Council or 'TAC' for short does create change. For the first major project they asked city officials to install a blinking stop sign in front of Westmont High School in 2022.

Now Streaming 24/7 Click Here

If you're on the ABC7 News app, click here to watch live