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​Stretching 21 miles along the beautiful Malibu coast, the Pacific Coast Highway has proven to be one of the most deadly stretches of asphalt on Earth.

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On April 3, 2010, thirteen-year-old Emily Rose Shane was ruthlessly murdered on Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu. A suicidal driver— manic and relentless—deliberately struck her as she approached a crosswalk. On her way to meet her father, Emily died instantly.

Although she walked along a proper pathway and followed pedestrian protocol, Emily was added to a macabre list of fatalities. She lost her life on a picturesque road many consider one of the most beautiful in the world.

An exquisite scenic drive, PCH is also one of the most deadly.

The highway is a top kill-zone for traffic in the United States. Although Malibu only has thirteen thousand residents, its accident rate resembles a city with a population in the hundreds of thousands.


Emily Rose Shane



During a four-month time frame in 2010, eight people were killed along a five-mile stretch in the beach-side enclave. Rescue sirens commingle with crashing waves on a daily basis. They remind residents the idyllic drive through paradise is deadly.


21 Miles in Malibu is about a lot more than the Pacific Coast Highway. It highlights the juxtaposition between one of the most iconic places in the world, and one of the deadliest.

I was compelled to make 21 Miles in Malibu after hearing Michel Shane’s story about his daughter, Emily. We’ve all heard stories about road violence and tragedy, but it doesn’t feel real until it happens to you, or someone you know. I believe this film exemplifies the power of the documentary medium, and hopefully, its ability to cause change.

21 Miles in Malibu engages the audience with the stereotypical image of Malibu, and then surprises them with a dreadful underbelly few know about. My goal was to create something shocking and visceral, but also capture subtle emotion, particularly of those affected by tragedies that have happened on this stretch of highway.

It's not easy making a film about a road. But this is no ordinary road. If the film speaks to you, I encourage you to explore ways to take action to make this highway, and all others, a little safer.

- Nic Davis

  Director, 21 Miles in malibu

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What's the story?

21 Miles in Malibu is a documentary film. It explores why so many people are killed in Malibu on Pacific Coast Highway. It addresses why this horrific reality isn't rectified. The film exposes obsolete road infrastructure and insufficient traffic regulation. It examines Malibu's nuances— an internationally recognized hub for surfing and cycling— and its particular safety hazards.


Drunk drivers, careless pedestrians, speeding cars, and the lack of a substantial embankment along the highway create a lethal framework. It's anarchy. A precarious context, insurance companies guarantee Malibu residents will be involved in an accident on the coastal highway.


The film highlights the family and friends of those who've lost their lives on PCH— including Emily Shane's. 21 Miles in Malibu will also share perspectives from sheriff’s deputies, tow truck drivers, cabbies, and others who've experienced first-hand carnage on the road. It will include interviews with celebrities who have been involved in accidents on the highway.


However, 21 Miles in Malibu is not a litany of sorrow. It will not only identify problems but will explore substantive measures to make the road safer. Engineers, traffic experts, and law enforcement officials will provide solutions.

Most importantly, 21 Miles in Malibu will follow the efforts of a grassroots coalition of Malibu residents that formed in the wake of Emily Shane’s death. This group dedicates itself to getting answers that will stick.

The archive of Pepperdine University, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's office, the California Highway Patrol, Caltrans, The Malibu Times, and Malibu Surfside News have lent their resources to the film.

Photos by hans laetz

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