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Tiger Woods accident sparks new drive to improve safety on road known for dangers

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There is a new push to examine safety issues on Hawthorne Boulevard on the Palos Verdes Peninsula after Tiger Woods was seriously hurt in a rollover crash Tuesday.

On Wednesday, L.A. County Supervisor Janice Hahn said she has directed the county Department of Public Works to conduct a safety review of the stretch of road where the accident occurred, which lies in her district.

Hawthorne Boulevard, with a speed limit of 45 mph, is one of the main routes out of the peninsula. The combination of the steep grade, curves and wide lanes often leads to accidents. Residents called it a “dangerous stretch of road” and said there are collisions there all the time.

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Signs warn trucks to use lower gears, and an emergency turnout occupies the right shoulder toward the bottom of the hill.

The site of the accident is on the border of Rancho Palos Verdes and Rolling Hills Estates, which together have jurisdiction over the highway, Hahn said. The Department of Public Works will be working with both cities to provide technical assistance for their safety review, spokesman Steven Frasher said.

Hahn said the issue of traffic safety is a “tremendous concern,” and one that affects the entire county.

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“I have driven this road myself many times and I have noticed how easy it is to pick up speed on that hill,” Hahn said over email, “but I did not realize how many accidents were happening there. I heard a lot of concern yesterday about this road and speeding, and I thought that the county could offer our Department of Public Works’ expertise and technical support for the cities if there is a way we can make this road safer.”

She could not confirm what those safety measures might entail. Representatives for both cities did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva noted that it is easy for drivers to go faster than the speed limit if they are not careful.

“In this stretch of road, going downhill on a curve, even if you’re not accelerating, just by gravity alone you’re going to start going faster,” he said.

Since January 2020, there have been 13 accidents, including four with injuries, on the stretch of road where Woods crashed, Villanueva said.

“You can have driver’s inattention, you can have any distraction like that, you can have speed involved,” he said.

His team will be speaking with Rancho Palos Verdes and Rolling Hills Estates officials on how to improve safety on Hawthorne Boulevard, he told The Times after a news conference about the accident.

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Woods was the sole occupant of a 2021 Genesis GV80 SUV that was traveling north on Hawthorne at Blackhorse Road when he crashed just after 7 a.m., authorities said. The vehicle sustained major damage, and Woods had to be extricated from the wreckage by personnel from the Los Angeles County Fire Department, sheriff’s officials said.

Villanueva said Tuesday that the area had “a high frequency of accidents.” The sheriff said that there were no skid marks or signs of braking and that the golfer’s vehicle hit the center divider, a curb and a tree in the rollover crash.

Villanueva said there was no evidence at the scene that Woods was impaired, a point he reiterated Wednesday.

“This is purely an accident,” Villanueva said at the news conference.

Hahn said county officials could “offer technical assistance and engineering support to make it safer for motorists, local community members and the general public.”

Donnie Nelson, a resident of Rolling Hills, said there are one or two serious crashes every year on the roadway.

“Most of the time,” he said, “trucks come down the hill and lose their brakes.”

Nelson said he knows of at least one person who was seriously injured by a trash truck on the hill.

The speed limit is 45 mph, but “cars fly by you here,” he said.

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Residents said that the grade going down Hawthorne is very steep and that it’s easy to lose track of speed.

“You don’t know how fast you can descend. I’ve been ticketed not even accelerating, just using the momentum of the hill, and I was speeding,” said a 54-year resident of Rancho Palos Verdes who requested not to be named.

“If you’re not familiar with this area, it’s just really easy to go fast. I usually [avoid the Hawthorne and Blackhorse intersection] because people will run the light, and I could get nailed making my left turn up here,” the resident said.

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