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While Los Angeles has one of the highest rates of pedestrian injury and deaths in the country, studies show that Hollywood is home to some of the city’s most dangerous streets for walkers in terms of traffic accidents.
A Los Angeles-based independent tech company, DataScience, released a list of the worst intersections for pedestrians, and Hollywood Boulevard is at the top of the list.
Between November 2014 and October 2015, Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue was the worst intersection for pedestrians in terms of frequency of accidents. The intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and North McCadden Place was fourth on the list.
The study also found that motorists are at fault 41 percent of the time and pedestrians are at fault 31 percent of the time. Over half of pedestrian collisions occur in crosswalks when pedestrians have the right of way.
Since Los Angeles has not seen a significant decrease in the number of people killed and severely injured from traffic collisions in the past 10 years, Mayor Eric Garcetti set a goal of zero traffic deaths per year by 2025, and the city’s departments and council offices are acting on it. Vision Zero is a traffic safety policy that centers on engineering, enforcement, education, evaluation and equity of the mayor’s goals which also include reducing traffic deaths by 20 percent by 2017.
The Vision Zero team is made up of several city departments. To support the initiative, the city staff has also been using a data-driven approach to help identify and prioritize areas most in need.
“We found that 6 percent of those streets [in Los Angeles] account for 65 percent of the fatal accidents,” said Vision Zero senior project coordinator Nat Gale.
Some Vision Zero studies dive further to put matters into perspective. For example, 95 collisions occur in Los Angeles per day. More than 950 people sustained life-threatening injuries in 2013 and 200 people die each year in collisions. While Los Angeles is home to more than 3.8 million people, and New York City is home to 8.5 million, the Big Apple’s pedestrian injury and death rates are almost half of Los Angeles’.
Gale said the data-driven research is powerful because of what officials learn. For example, they learned that people walking and bicycling are “over-represented” among traffic deaths. That means that while 18 percent of people in Los Angeles walk to work, pedestrians make up approximately 33 percent of people severely injured and 44 percent of people killed in traffic collisions.
Gale said one of the fundamental aspects LADOT and Vision Zero examine is speed. When a vehicle travels 40 mph instead of 20 mph, the likelihood of pedestrian death if a collision occurs increases from 10 percent to 80 percent. Slower speeds also increase a driver’s field of vision and allow more time to react.
Gale said that doesn’t mean Los Angeles is about to start seeing lower speed limits on all roads. Each intersection is different and calls for different measures to improve safety.
“Our efforts are based on proven solutions that consider the large variety of factors that contribute to risk, such as the design of the street, location and time of day,” he said.
Some of the measures used to improve streets around the city include tightening intersections, creating more visibility, reducing the risk of collisions between turning vehicles, installing pedestrian intervals and rectangular rapid flashing beacons.
Gale and transportation planning associate Valerie Watson said they believe part of their success will come from enforcing of existing traffic safety laws and educating the public through safety campaigns. They said collisions are often the result of poor behavior.
Part of the education will be reminding people how important the existing laws are, Watson said, pointing to how frequently people cross the street when they don’t have a signal or vehicles turning left on a red light.
DataScience’s study included data from before a scramble crosswalk was installed at Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue. Councilman Mitch O’Farrell’s worked on this and on other streetscape improvements such adding changes such as bump outs in sidewalks and pedestrian activated traffic signals.
Pedestrian safety is the Councilmember’s top transportation priority, said his communications director, Tony Arranaga.
“Councilmember O’Farrell is committed to increasing pedestrian safety throughout the 13th District, and is leading the way on 10 different pedestrian improvement projects, including enhancements at LeConte Middle School, Larchmont Charter School,” he said.
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