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Latest fatality brings Manteca traffic death count to six
accident tape

A motorcyclist became the sixth person to die on the streets of Manteca in a vehicle-related accident so far this year.

John Alonzo Jr. of Manteca was killed Sunday — the day before his 39th birthday — in a collision with a vehicle on West Lathrop Road west of Airport Way. The accident happened shortly before 7 p.m.

Alonzo was a Manteca resident that grew up in Lathrop, attended Sierra High School, and was well-known in the community. 

In addition to an outpouring of condolences from family and friends when word of Alonzo’s death began to circulate on social media, Lathrop Mayor Sonny Dhaliwal posted his condolences and noted that Alonzo was somebody he considered a friend, and Manteca City Councilman Gary Singh noted that he’s known Alonzo since their shared days growing up in Lathrop and attending Sierra High School together. 

The Manteca Police Department’s Major Accident Investigation Team was on scene Sunday night and the roadway was closed for an investigation that was continued well into the night. The other driver and the vehicle that was involved in the collision did stop and was being interviewed by officers. An investigation into the crash was underway. No additional information about the cause of the accident has been released by authorities at this time. 

Friends and family members gathered near the crash site on Monday evening for an impromptu vigil to remember the young father.

That brings the total of traffic deaths for 2019 with five weeks to go to six matching the six that died in 2015 that up until Sunday was the highest year for traffic deaths since at least 2004.

More people have died on the streets of Manteca in accidents over the past decade than have been victims of a homicide.

There have been 27 traffic deaths on Manteca surface streets since 2010 as opposed to 24 homicides.  About a third of Manteca’s traffic deaths involve pedestrians being killed.

The accident death tally does not include deaths on the 120 Bypass and Highway 99 given they are within the state’s jurisdiction. The 120 Bypass death tally since 2010 has reached 21 people primarily in the eastbound lanes between Main Street and the Highway 99 transition ramps.

After traffic deaths being on the decline for the two previous years they are now on an upswing. There have been six traffic deaths through Sunday. Two of those that have been killed are pedestrians.  The number of injury accidents so far this year is now at 187 as of Sept. 30 There have been 12 injury accidents involving bicyclists.

Last year there were 223 injury accidents with three deaths including a bicyclist. In 2018 there were 19 collisions where a pedestrian, skateboarder or scooter rider was involved. That is in addition to 23 collisions involving a bicyclist.

Manteca Police have indicated the primary causes for collisions on city streets are due to drivers making unsafe turning movements, right of way violations, speed violations, inattention and/or distracted driving, as well as impairment due to drugs/alcohol, a combination of both, or driver fatigue.

Overall traffic accidents on Manteca city streets dropped in 2018.

And while the number of injury accidents was up 19.8 percent last year, fatal accidents had been declining since they peaked at six in 2015.

The snapshot of how safe the streets are in Manteca is gleaned from traffic accident statistics kept by the Manteca Police Department. They do not involve fender benders where the police did not respond.

The 10-year trend shows the last four years, however, have been the deadliest on city streets with 20 traffic fatalities from 2015 to 2018 compared to 6 in the previous six years.

Manteca population during that time went up 23.4 percent from 65,993 to 81,450 while overall accidents went up 37.6 percent going from 675 to 929 while injury accidents soared 87.3 percent going from 119 to 223. There were no fatalities in 2009. There were 2 fatalities in 2018. Meanwhile tickets issued for moving violations plummeted 57 percent. The year 2009 was the last time Manteca Police have five officers dedicated to traffic enforcement. Today there are four officers.

In 2018, there was an average of 2.5 accidents a day.

Manteca’s strategy toward making streets safer is dubbed the ‘Three E’s” — engineering, education, and enforcement.

Even if a more muscular traffic enforcement unit is put in place, given officers can’t be everywhere. The most effective “E” in the long run to altering driving habits is engineering.

It is why the city staff has developed an updated traffic calming for neighborhood streets. Most of the strategies in the traffic calming policy aim at slowing down traffic.

Examples of traffic calming measures include:

ustriping designed to narrow lanes and alert drivers. pedestrians and bicyclists.

ubicycle lanes to promote bicycle use and safety as well as slow down vehicles by making travel lanes narrower.

uBotts Dots with reflective markers to keep drivers on the right side of the road. They are especially useful on curves such as those found on North Powers Avenue.

uspeed limit radar displays in conjunction with static speed limit signs in a bid to educate motorists of their speed and to encourage compliance. Deployment includes temporary radar trailers and solar powered speed limit signs.

uincrease traffic enforcement. As opposed to other measures it would be impossible to have in place 24/7. 

uspeed humps across the street that force motorists to slow down in order to cross. They would not be deployed on emergency response routes.

uspeed lumps — basically three smaller speed hump — spaced to allow buses and emergency vehicles to straddle them by going down the middle of the road or toward the side of the road.

uspeed tables that are a flat-topped speed hump of a longer length that can be used on emergency response routes.

uraised crosswalks that provide pedestrians with a sidewalk level street crossing. The raised crosswalks function as a speed hump of sorts while making pedestrians more visible to approaching motorists.

Other traffic calming devices include bulb outs, pedestrian islands, traffic circles, partial or full closure of streets, and stop signs.

Residents can put in motion a city inquiry into whether deploy traffic calming devices on specific streets.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email