South Bay

Spike in Crashes at 87-101-First Street Split in San Jose

NBCUniversal, Inc.

There's been repeated crashes in the same spot on northbound Highway 87 in San Jose, and the California Highway Patrol says it's combination of a high-traffic area and distracted drivers.

In the past year, at least nine crashes occurred along Highway 87, near the Highway 101 and First Street junction. At the split, drivers can either merge onto 101 north or get off on the North First Street exit. CHP officers said it’s not a design problem, but it’s just that millions of people drive the stretch, and many of them are distracted.

On Sunday afternoon, a box truck heading north on 87 careened off the First Street exit, plowed through a guardrail and slammed into trees. The crash slowed traffic for hours.

Dayanara Mendiola, who drives the stretch of road nearly every day, says she’s seen more than her share of crashes there.

"Maybe like every week," Mendiola said. "Maybe like a bumper collision, I’d say, or people standing on the side of the road."

CHP records show the northbound 87/101 split near First Street has seen at least 27 incidents and 10 injuries from 2015 through 2018. During that time frame, at a similar highway exit, only five incidents and three injuries occurred on Highway 85 at 101; and at Highway 237 and Interstate 880, 13 incidents and eight injuries occurred.

"We can’t say it’s the roadway's fault; it’s the way people are driving," CHP Officer Ross Lee said.

Lee said many more drivers use the stretch of 87 near First Street, compared with 101 or 880, likely leading to more accidents. But Lee admits the junction is tricky.

"There would be a little confusion that happens there, and potentially people who are looking at directions on phones, that could be a contributing factor," Lee said. "But we can’t say definitively."

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