first_imgMore than 1,000 San Fernando Valley pedestrians have been hit by vehicles since 2006, with three major thoroughfares serving as the sites of most of the serious injuries and deaths. And since 2002, 30 people were killed and more than 90 seriously hurt on just two streets – Sherman Way and Vanowen Street. Risky attempts to cross the Valley’s wide streets – where motorists often zoom by at more than 60 mph in what are supposed to be 35-mph zones – are among the reasons for the lethal toll. A large number of residential pockets near heavily trafficked business districts also make street crossing a risky affair for pedestrians. Police, meanwhile, are frustrated because pedestrian deaths are often the most preventable. “Often the person driving the vehicle is an average Joe Blow coming home from work and their attention was split, they weren’t looking,” Deaton said. “Their lives are pretty much destroyed now.” In a March incident, Christina Hillary Oganesyan, 16, and her sister, Maria Oganesyan, 22, were out for the night and jaywalked across Ventura Boulevard in Sherman Oaks. A Chevrolet Cavalier hit them both, critically injuring them. The family did not return calls for comment, but months after the incident the two are still recovering. The hit-and-run driver also is still on the loose. In January, another hit-and-run driver killed Maria Carmen Ferman, a mother of four who was on her way to buy juice and bread for her daughter. Ferman was crossing along the 1800 block of Saticoy Street when she was hit by a sport utility vehicle. In another effort to curb the incidents, the city’s transportation department launched a program last year to replace all signals with a countdown meter that lets pedestrians know how much time is left to cross the street. It will take five years to install the signals throughout the city, with more than 450 crosswalk signs set to be replaced in the Valley by the middle of next year. But some believe more still needs to be done. “It’s obvious that there needs to be more improvements with traffic safety,” said Hamid Bahadori of the Automobile Club of Southern California. As cars honked, changed lanes and squeezed their way through the busy intersection at Sherman Way and Van Nuys Boulevard on Friday, pedestrian Yolanda Mosley recounted the near-misses she’s had while attempting to cross Valley streets. “Some of them don’t even care,” the 37-year-old Van Nuys resident said of drivers. “You look at them. They just keep on going.” Mosley, who is eight months pregnant, said drivers who talk on their cell phones have made the problems worse. “They don’t pay attention when they turn corners,” she said. Many of the streets built after a midcentury boom in the Valley were not constructed to handle the nearly 2 million residents who live in the basin, much less the estimated 1.5 million who come into the region daily. “With that comes tremendous pressure on the traffic system and roadways,” said LAPD Capt. Ronald Marbrey, head of the Valley Traffic division. Although there has been a drop in pedestrian deaths this year, certain Valley streets continue to pose a problem. Roscoe Boulevard, for example, is third among thoroughfares in the Valley where the most serious accidents have occurred. But city traffic planners say they are responding to dangerous locations only after there has been a death or serious accident, in part because of staffing shortages. “The Los Angeles Department of Transportation really needs to be doing something,” said Gloria Ohland, a spokeswoman for Reconnecting America, which promotes pedestrian-friendly communities. “We need more crosswalks, bigger crosswalks and traffic calming. “There are a lot of people that die on the streets. It is just about priorities: Do you want to move a lot of traffic through neighborhoods quickly or do you want neighborhoods to be more pleasant places to live?” As an example, she pointed to more heavily walked portions of Ventura Boulevard. But planners say even in such areas with more crosswalks, simple caution could prevent most accidents. “What drives most of the pedestrian accidents, most of them were pedestrians not obeying the rules of the road,” said Alan Willis, the city’s principal transportation engineer. “They were jaywalking or crossing against the light. A lot of those were alcohol-related.” The quick, life-changing moments for the victims often go unnoticed by the general public. Planners, police and politicians say their safety and education campaigns get little attention. And in an area like Los Angeles, where more than one-third of residents are from another country, education can go a long way. A native of Ecuador, Santiago Ulloa, 45, said pedestrians often get hit because motorists from other countries don’t know local traffic laws. “Minute to minute, second to second, there are infractions,” Ulloa said. “That’s why there are accidents.” Sitting at a bus stop at Sherman and Van Nuys, Ulloa said drivers are not the only ones to blame. Pedestrians “don’t respect the crossing zone,” the Van Nuys resident said, adding that people often stray outside the lines marked for them. LAPD officials said pedestrians often ignore simple safety tips. “You are talking about a 2,000-pound bullet going down the road against a 150- to 200-pound person,” Deaton said. “Who do you think is going to win?” [email protected] (818) 713-3741160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! But Los Angeles police say that in most of the cases, pedestrians have been at fault. “They are all so needless, every once in awhile it makes you want to scream,” said Detective Jim Deaton of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Valley Traffic division. “A lot of times you have citizens who aren’t paying attention. It’s sad, but true. A lot people step off into traffic without looking at the oncoming car.” A statewide analysis by the California Office of Traffic Safety found that pedestrians using a crosswalk are almost as likely to be killed or injured as a jaywalker or someone walking along the shoulder of a road. To stem the problem, lighted crosswalks at some of the city’s most dangerous intersections have been installed, but in most cases city officials say they are too costly to be placed everywhere. last_img read more

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