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Near Collisions as Drivers Make Risky ‘Nightclub Zone’ Intersection Worse

A power outage knocked signal lights out at a busy Santa Barbara intersection on Saturday night and because it was the nightclub area, the darkened streets became a danger zone. NewsChannel 3 witnessed several near collisions with cars and also many close calls between pedestrians and vehicles at State and Gutierrez streets.

Flares were set up for awhile, but they burnt out. A call for more flares or temporary stop signs were initially rejected.

At one point some of the downtown pedestrians were using the lit flares like sparklers on the 4th of July, waving them around.

By Sunday morning, however, there were temporary stop signs up while the power was being restored.

Police say they have priority 911 calls and can not do traffic controls at intersections when the lights are out. But drivers have the responsibility to follow the vehicle code rules when they come up on an intersection without working lights.

“Every California driver should be aware of that, if they’ve taken a driver’s test and have a driver’s license. They should know if they approach an intersection where the lights are not working they they are supposed to yield as if there are stop signs there,” said Santa Barbara Police Sgt. Riley Harwood.

He also said the city Public Works department is notified when extended power outages and intersection problems take place.

Harwood also said because it was a Saturday night, patrol units have many calls for service, city wide, ranging from drunk drivers, to domestic violence and every unit is busy.

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