"Stopper" starts traffic campaign

by Paul Teetor

Councilmember Joyce Fahey, right, and Joe Franklin, left, help "Stopper" direct traffic Saturday morning at the intersection of Manhattan Beach Boulevard and Ocean Drive. Photo by Paul Teetor

Children are being urged to nag their parents as part of a new traffic awareness campaign launched recently.

The campaign features a character named "Stopper," whose message — "Do stop, don’t speed," — is intended for little ears as well as big wheels.

"I told the kids that this is one time you are allowed to nag your parents," City Councilmember Joyce Fahey said Monday. "Many people believe that the seat belt law became effective because of children. When the seatbelt law was first introduced, it was the kids, not the policemen, who got their parents to wear seatbelts. It’s hard to say no to kids when lives are involved."

Saturday morning, Fahey and Mayor Walt Dougher were at the bottom of Manhattan Beach Boulevard, helping "Stopper" direct traffic and make sure children get the message so their parents get the message.

"We did some research that showed close to half of the homes in Manhattan Beach have school-age children," Fahey said. "So we decided that a traffic safety campaign designed to involve Manhattan Beach children and their parents could provide the most impact."

The new traffic campaign, which has been more than a year in the making, really had its start during Fahey’s first run for City Council in 1999.

"When I was campaigning, one of the women who lives on Marine Avenue had suggested to me that we would benefit from a citywide traffic campaign," Fahey said. "I thought it was a brilliant idea."

When she was elected to the City Council, Fahey learned that City Manager Geoff Dolan had already begun planning something similar.

"So the council appointed a subcommittee, including Walt Dougher and myself," Fahey said. "The subcommittee also had some local residents, including Jean McMillan, who originally suggested the citywide campaign."

The need to remind drivers to stop and obey all other traffic laws is growing more obvious every day, Fahey said.

"It’s a very real problem, and I experience it on a daily basis," Fahey said. "I live on a corner with a four way stop sign, and we see people blowing through the stop signs every day. It’s the most frequent complaint I hear."

Now that "Stopper" has made his debut, Fahey said Manhattan Beach residents can expect to see him all over town.

"He’ll make visits to schools. He’ll be at the Old Hometown Fair, he’ll be at the Little league parade, he’ll be lots of places," Fahey said. "He’ll always have the same message: "Do stop, don’t speed." ER