Police plant overturned car

To the drivers who may pass an overturned car on Verdugo Road near Glendale Community College: Don't worry, it's supposed to be there.

The wrecked display — set up on Friday — is part of a public safety campaign by Glendale police to draw attention to the potentially disastrous effects of distracted driving.

Similar displays were mounted last month at two locations on Glenoaks Boulevard, where motorists are known to exceed the speed limit.

After the displays were set up, police noticed the number of collisions dropped from three per week to zero, officials said.

"We are hoping that those numbers continue," Mayor Ara Najarian said at a news conference Friday for the new Verdugo display. "We are hoping that they are a direct result of this awareness program and perhaps become a model throughout the region."

The move is the Glendale Police Department's latest education and enforcement "Driven 2 Distraction?" campaign aimed at warning motorists about the effects of distracted driving, including talking or texting on a cell phone, reading a book, eating and applying makeup.

The campaign — funded through a $254,795 grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety — will focus on educating pedestrians on traffic safety, while targeting inattentive motorists.

The grant will also pay for equipment and traffic enforcement programs.

According to police figures from Dec. 1, 2009, to Dec. 1 this year, there have been 2,347 traffic collisions. Of those collisions, 661 resulted in injuries and 59 involved pedestrians.

During that period, six people were killed in traffic collisions, according to police statistics.

Officials are hoping the displays and continuous enforcement will get motorists to think about their driving habits, Lt. Carl Povilaitis said.

Another wrecked car was mounted on Verdugo Road just north of Canada Boulevard. Both displays were accompanied by electronic signs with messages that warned motorists of driving and texting.

Police are also considering moving the vehicles, which are loaned from Gay's Tow Service, to another part of the city.

"We will continue the program as long as we can hold on to the vehicles," Povilaitis said.

Motorists and passersby slowed to see the flipped car on Verdugo Road just before Mountain Street.

Highland Park resident Ramon Robles, 20, was walking to Glendale Community College when he saw the display and thought it was an actual crash scene.

"I thought someone was speeding and crashed," he said. "I thought someone died."

But he was skeptical that the displays would help drivers slow down on Verdugo Road.

"People are still going to speed," Robles said. "People are always trying to show off in their BMWs and Mercedes. I hate it. It gets on my nerves. They think they are bad."

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