Intersections: Glendale needs to put the brakes on bad driving

A 20-year-old Burbank man was killed in a crash on Friday, Oct. 30 fter he was ejected from his car onto a freeway sign on the Golden State (5) Freeway in Glendale.

A 20-year-old Burbank man was killed in a crash on Friday, Oct. 30 fter he was ejected from his car onto a freeway sign on the Golden State (5) Freeway in Glendale.

(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

Time and time again, polls and surveys have ranked Glendale near the bottom for traffic collisions, pedestrian safety and just all around bad driving.

But you don’t need an annual poll to figure this out. If you live here, you could just take a look at the headlines in this paper on any given week, and you’d come across news stories about a car crashing into a Glendale smoke shop, about how two suspected drunk drivers were arrested after they were caught allegedly racing above 120 mph, about a woman and her passenger being killed after her car crashed into a concrete pillar or the other woman whose car plunged into a construction site and overturned, or even the violent crash recently in La Crescenta, when a van and car collided with devastating results.

And then there’s the horrific incident from last week, a story that ended with the driver being ejected onto a freeway sign above the road, a story so tragic and bizarre that news of the incident made it to Gawker and the New York Daily News.

But you don’t even need to read these headlines. Just try actually driving in Glendale. Your chances of being cut off, honked at, hearing someone dangerously speeding down the street, or coming close to an accident yourself aren’t exactly low.

When you take into account the quality of the city’s roads, the street planning and layout, you realize it doesn’t have to be this way. There is nothing about this city inherently that should be causing this issue except the drivers who are making life difficult for the rest of us.

This is a highly contentious issue, one that plays out online quite viciously, where concern and frustration somehow turn into ethnic hatred and dizzying back-and-forth insults.

But there are truths that need to be acknowledged here. While I don’t think that one group of people is wholly responsible for Glendale’s bad driving award, it needs to be said that this is a serious issue within the Armenian community, and those who call themselves community leaders need to address it. Ignoring this does not make the problem go away.

There are many issues on our agenda — from genocide recognition to contributing to the prosperity of a faraway homeland. But there are many issues here, now, that are impacting the well-being of hundreds of thousands of people.

Driving safety is one of them. It’s not a grand, sweeping problem that the world needs to know about. It’s hyper-localized, but one that is just as worthy of solving — before more cars are inadvertently turned into weapons, before more accidental casualties make the headlines of newspapers.

This needs addressing quickly, and offline, in some organized community forum involving people from all backgrounds. If this city is “home” for all of us, then shouldn’t we be treating it with more kindness, care and respect, both in and out of our cars?


LIANA AGHAJANIAN is a Los Angeles-based journalist whose work has appeared in L.A. Weekly, Paste magazine, New America Media, Eurasianet and The Atlantic. She may be reached at