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Special Report:

A crash course on prevention

January 16, 2010|By Veronica Rocha

A hit-and-run death in the first week of the new year underscored Glendale’s troubled pedestrian safety record that has left nearly 30 dead and more than 1,000 injured in the past decade, leaving a scar on the city’s otherwise enviable public safety record.

Glendale has consistently ranked at the bottom among comparable cities when it comes to pedestrian-related collisions, according the California Office of Traffic Safety.

For eight consecutive years, Glendale was the most unsafe city for pedestrians 65 or older, according to the agency, a ranking that improved slightly in 2008 to second-worst.

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Even in the relatively good years, Glendale has never managed to get out of the bottom 10 in terms of pedestrian safety for a city with a population of 100,001 to 250,000.

In the past decade, 28 pedestrians were killed in collisions, and another 1,075 were injured in crashes, according to the Glendale Police Department. The worst year was 2003, in which five pedestrians were killed by vehicles.

In 2007, 126 pedestrians were injured, and four were killed, according to the department.

This year showed little sign of changing the tide when a Montrose man was struck by an SUV on New Year’s Day. He died of his injuries a few days later, affirming the recurring problem for city officials who, despite myriad outreach campaigns and enforcement stings, have made little progress in permanently turning the corner.

“If you look at injury accidents and our fatalities over the last three years, there’s been somewhat of a reduction, so I think a lot of what we do is working,” Glendale Police Chief Ron De Pompa said. “But certainly, a lot more needs to be done. We just simply have to find more effective ways of reaching the public and getting the message across.”

The city’s degrading traffic safety was an unintended consequence of an understaffed police department, he added.

“When that ever-present threat of that citation isn’t out there, then it kind of opens the door to a degrading type of behavior when it comes to driving,” De Pompa said.

In response to being short-staffed, the department has been directing its resources to problem areas, which De Pompa said can create its own challenges.

“But then you get into an environment of push down and pop up,” he said.

‘That’s something I will never forget’

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