Pedestrian Accidents Plague Glendale

Tamara Hacopian, Staff Writer

In the latest local pedestrian fatality, an 86-year-old man was struck and killed by an oncoming vehicle as he crossed five traffic lanes near Glendale Community College in April.

Since 2013, seven people have been killed in vehicle versus pedestrian accidents, according to Tom Lorenz, a Glendale police sergeant. City officials are stepping up to help prevent further accidents of this kind.

The police department has implemented a pedestrian safety campaign, where free reflective bands, lighted key chains, and pens are being distributed to promote traffic and pedestrian safety. Glendale mayor Zareh Sinanyan also addressed the issue in a recent public service announcement on traffic safety.

The reflective bands help pedestrians to be visible after dark, since most of the pedestrian fatalities have occurred at night.

Out of 194 cities analyzed, Allstate America’s ninth annual “Best Drivers Report” placed Glendale at 190, ranking it near the bottom. The only cities ranked worse than Glendale were Hialeah, Fla., Providence, R.I., Baltimore, Md., and Washington D.C.

The Allstate survey is based on collisions that happen within a 10-year period per driver. The average Glendale driver will experience a car collision every 5.7 years, which is 76 percent more than the national average of 10 years — meaning Glendale drivers are 76 percent more likely to be in an accident.

Lorenz said that Glendale ranks worst in senior citizen pedestrian accidents but is moderately safe in its traffic accident rankings.

“Allstate only uses their drivers — they don’t include all drivers,” he said. “So they’re only using statistics from their insurers, whereas that is not empirical data. Their information is based on numbers and it does not necessarily reflect on the true information in regards to what cities are safer or more dangerous than others.”

Lorenz believes this makes Allstate’s report biased and unbalanced.

One reason for Glendale’s bad driving reputation is the large percentage of vehicle owners in the city, compared to other cities that ranked safer on the report that do not have as many registered vehicles. Most Glendale residents have two or more vehicles per household, according to Lorenz.

He also said that drivers are not always at fault for pedestrian accidents. Pedestrians are at fault when they fail to use a crosswalk, jaywalk, or even when they cross between parked cars — meaning pedestrian casualties do not reflect bad driving skills.

Out-going ASGCC President Davit Avagyan is on the pedestrian safety committee in Glendale.

“We have people from the police department, residents of Glendale concerned about the issue and people from different organizations,” Avagyan said. “Everybody comes together and thinks of ideas of what we can do, how we can do it.”

As a task force, the safety committee works hand-in-hand with the city of Glendale.

“The task force had a workshop in which we had people from Berkeley come here and look at the city and give us some recommendations on things that we can improve,” said Avagyan. “We’re looking at the recommendations right now.”

Avagyan said that they are analyzing what they have done so far and how it can improved.

“[The safety committee] is just trying to educate the city to be more aware that you can’t expect a car to always to stop. You have to be aware of yourself,” said Avagyan.

Contrary to popular belief, pedestrian fatalities occur in the residential areas as much as around the Americana at Brand or other busy areas, said Avagyan.

Lorenz said the burden falls on drivers as well as pedestrians and offered his advice.

“It is crucial for drivers to watch for pedestrians and for pedestrians to make eye contact with drivers,” said Lorenz. “If they were to watch out for each other, literally, pedestrian accidents can be prevented.”