Berkeley safety experts to discuss Glendale's hit-and-run incidents

Traffic safety in Glendale apparently will get a shot in the arm from one of the state's most renowned safety research centers.

UC Berkeley's transportation research center has agreed to visit Glendale again to conduct an educational workshop about traffic safety issues.

Details about the free workshop and when it will occur haven't been decided.

Officials decided to put a stronger emphasis on safety issues following a recent string of pedestrian-involved collisions, including a fatality.

“We are open to exploring different options with the city,” said Jill Cooper, associate director of the UC Berkeley's Safe Transportation Research and Education Center.

Transportation and Parking Commissioner Maro Yacoubian contacted Cooper following the crashes and expressed interest in having the workshop return to Glendale for a second time.

In 2009, UC Berkeley's Traffic Safety Center and California Walks put on a four-hour “Community Pedestrian Safety Training” seminar focusing on engineering, enforcement, education and public health.

Glendale was selected for the training seminar because of its high number of pedestrian-involved collisions and fatalities.

During the seminar, residents and community leaders examined the city's streets as part of a walkability assessment.

At the time, the city tried to curb the high number of collisions by installing lighted crosswalks and conducting pedestrian stings.

After the workshop, city crews painted the word “Look” in several languages at various intersections to remind pedestrians to be vigilant. Staff from the Glendale Police Department and volunteers handed out traffic safety brochures to residents and business owners.

Police and city officials launched the public education campaign “Driven 2 Distraction,” which focuses on distracted motorists. They displayed wrecked vehicles at Glenoaks Boulevard and Verdugo Road and used electronic message boards to share safety information.

But even with all those efforts, pedestrian-involved collisions have continued in Glendale.

In 2010, the California Office of Traffic Safety ranked Glendale as being third-worst among cities with populations of 100,000 to 250,000 for pedestrian-involved accidents.

The agency also determined that Glendale was the worst in accidents that involved pedestrians 65 and older.

The 2010 statistics didn't budge from the previous year.

The latest series of pedestrian-involved collisions involved four women between the ages of 69 and 88.

Glendale Police Chief Ron De Pompa has welcomed the idea of having UC Berkeley provide input on the city's traffic safety issues.

“The more we can partner together, the better,” he said at a City Council meeting on Oct. 8.

Councilman Ara Najarian, who initially asked the center to help the city in 2009, also asked Yacoubian to make the call to UC Berkeley.

“The council is not sitting idly. We are all going to do everything we can and we are all brainstorming,” he said at last week's council meeting. “None of us [is] happy with the status. We are all in this together.”


Follow Veronica Rocha on Google+ and on Twitter: @VeronicaRochaLA.


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