Last year was devastating for pedestrians in Glendale as traffic-related fatalities saw a 400% jump from 2012.
Fatalities jumped to eight last year, which is substantial compared to 2012 when police logged only two traffic-related deaths, according to Glendale Police Department’s latest annual crime statistics.
[For the record, Jan. 22, 2013: An A1 story that published Sunday titled “Stats reflect traffic dangers” incorrectly stated the percentage of increase of traffic-related fatalities in Glendale last year compared to 2012.]
But the number of fatalities wasn’t the only increase last year, overall, traffic collisions — including those with injuries and involving pedestrians — also rose.
Injury and “non-injury” collisions both grew 7%, with 631 injury crashes last year and 1,962 “non-injury” incidents.
Accidents involving pedestrians rose 3% from 108 incidents in 2012 to 111 last year.
Still, the higher number of pedestrian-involved traffic fatalities was not singular to Glendale.
Cities across the state and the country are seeing increases in traffic fatalities involving pedestrians, said Wendy Alfsen, executive director of the pedestrian safety advocacy group California Walks.
“It’s a statewide issue; it’s a nationwide issue and it’s probably a worldwide issue,” she said.
Cuts to funding that would support pedestrian safety, lack of speed controls and distracted driving and walking have contributed to the surge in pedestrian traffic fatalities, Alfsen said.
Traffic collisions involving pedestrians are also most likely to occur in Glendale because many drivers commute through it and the city attracts more visitors.
“It’s almost a tourist attraction,” Alfsen said.
Seniors, she said, are the most likely to be victims of pedestrian-involved fatalities because many more are walking now and they tend to suffer more serious injuries.
Of the five people who were killed in pedestrian-involved collisions in Glendale last year, four of them were over 70.
Glendale Police Chief Robert Castro said he believes the collisions could be avoided by changing the behavior of motorists and pedestrians.
Certain traffic measures also give drivers and pedestrians, he said, a false sense of security.
The increase in overall accidents and fatalities has shown a need for a more serious and open conversation about traffic safety, Castro said.
To address the issue, he said he reached out to traffic safety officials in San Francisco, which is facing a similar upturn.
Castro also plans to look for additional funding from the California Office of Traffic Safety to tackle increases in collisions and fatalities.
He said he has requested a study to examine where and when collisions have occurred during the past four years.
Alfsen and UC Berkeley also plan to visit Glendale later this year to revive a community training seminar first held in 2009, which focused on pedestrian-safety issues.
Pedestrians and motorists, Alfsen said, must learn to interact to avoid deadly accidents.
“All of these deaths are preventable,” she said.