A crash that injured four people Sunday evening on Highway 154 at Foxen Canyon Road in Los Olivos is just the latest in a long strong at the intersection, one of four between highways 246 and 101 that are targeted for safety improvements.
The crash occurred about 6:30 p.m. when a 2021 Lexus NX 300 pulled out onto Highway 154 from Foxen Canyon Road and was struck by a 1997 Saturn sedan, said Officer Michael Griffith of the Buellton Area Office of the California Highway Patrol.
“We’ve had quite a few crashes at that intersection where people turned left or right [onto Highway 154] when it was unsafe to do so,” Griffith said.
The male drivers, one about 70 years old and the other about 55, and a woman passenger in each vehicle were injured, Griffith said.
Santa Barbara County Fire Department spokesman Capt. Scott Safechuck said the men suffered minor injuries, but the two women suffered major injuries and had to be extricated from the vehicles.
Griffith said one patient was flown by CalSTAR helicopter to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, while AMR ambulances transported two to that hospital and one to Marian Regional Medical Center in Santa Maria.
Santa Barbara County Association of Governments and the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians conducted a Santa Ynez Valley Traffic Circulation and Safety Study that looked at four intersections along the segment of Highway 154 between highways 246 and 101.
The study recommended four-way stops or roundabouts at the highway’s intersections with Foxen Canyon, Grand Avenue/Figueroa Mountain Road, Roblar Avenue and Baseline Avenue/Edison Street.
Caltrans is currently planning to construct a roundabout at the Baseline Avenue/Edison Street intersection with Highway 154, with construction estimated to begin in summer 2023.
Roundabouts are also planned for the Roblar Avenue, Grand Avenue and Foxen Canyon Road intersections, but no timeline exists for those improvements.
According to Caltrans District 5, roundabouts reduce the number of crashes by about 31% and injury collisions by about 76%.
CHP officers from the Buellton Area Office have made Highway 154 through the Santa Ynez Valley the focus of enhanced enforcement in an effort to reduce the number of crashes along that segment of the highway.
Buellton CHP officers patrol 21 miles of Highway 154, while Santa Barbara CHP officers patrol 11 miles.
In the decade ending in 2021, Caltrans had spent more than $30 million on an estimated 35 improvements along Highway 154, including installing rumble strips, guard rails, barrier fencing, beacons, wider striping, new passing lanes, new warning signs and traffic-calming measures, according to research conducted by Santa Barbara County 3rd District Supervisor Joan Hartmann’s staff.
In 2021, the CHP said Highway 154 accounted for 5% of the crashes that occur in the jurisdiction of the Buellton and Santa Barbara area offices.