The Mesa neighborhood was full of vehicle wrecks Monday morning, October 19, bringing traffic to a standstill on the normally smooth-running Cliff Drive. All drivers blamed the morning sun in their eyes as the reason behind the collisions.
According to the Santa Barbara Police Department, the first collision occurred at 7:40 a.m. when several vehicles on Cliff were stopped at a red light on Mesa Lane. A man driving about 40 miles per hour, eastbound in an Exterra, told police later that he couldn’t see traffic stopped because the sun was in his eyes. His SUV rear-ended a minivan, which led to a string of collisions involving the two other stopped vehicles in front of the minivan. The van had major damage, while the other three vehicles had little to moderate damage. No medical treatment was required for anyone in the collision.
Not long afterward, with traffic still backed up because of this multi-vehicle collision, a woman driving east on Cliff Drive in a Saturn rear-ended another Saturn stopped near Mesa Lane. That car was pushed into another. The two drivers of the Saturns were taken to Cottage Hospital for minor injuries.
Just minutes after that, a man on a motor-scooter driving east on Cliff Drive rear-ended a Dodge that was stopped because of the previous collisions. The rider, a 29-year-old male, flew over his handlebars and landed on the Dodge. He suffered only minor pain.
Lt. Paul McCaffrey reported that a fourth collision also occurred, but resulted in very minor damage and the drivers exchanged information without a police report being taken.
While drivers blamed the sun, McCaffrey said investigations determined the “primary collision factor was driving at unsafe speed for conditions,” and noted that drivers have to accommodate the fact that the sun-as with other weather conditions-can greatly reduce visibility.