Los Angeles to introduce plan to reduce serious traffic crashes this year

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Los Angeles wants to reduce the number of fatal and serious injury traffic collisions in the city by 10 percent this year, according to a preliminary LAPD traffic safety plan.

L.A. police officials are scheduled to present the plan Tuesday before the L.A. Police Commission. It includes a goal of reducing the number of traffic collisions that are fatal or lead to serious injuries by 10 percent, according to L.A. police union president Tyler Izen.

“I think anything is attainable,” Izen said. “It might require much more than the Los Angeles Police Department. It might require every citizen out there. It might require all of us to give up our phones while we’re in the car.” 

Related: LAPD Chief Charlie Beck: 'This is the year of traffic' enforcement

About 110 officers have so far been asked to voluntarily move to traffic enforcement assignments at one of the department's four bureaus across the city.

These are some statistics the LAPD will be working to reduce. LAPD police chief Charlie Beck started including traffic statistics in his weekly crime stats update to the police commission. The following are traffic statistics from January 1, 2014  to March 1, 2014:

  • There have been 6,187 traffic accidents from Jan. 1 to March 1, 2014 -- down slightly compared to the same time period in 2013 and down about 4 percent compared to 2012.
  • Collisions involving deaths: 31 from Jan. 2014 to March 2014, compared to 22 during the same period last year.
  • Total hit-and-run accidents, including property damage, injuries and fatalities: 2,646 in 2014, compared to 2,972 at this time last year, but up slightly compared to 2012.
  • There have been five fatal hit-and-runs this year up to March 1. There were two at this time last year.
  • Pedestrian related traffic accidents: 443 so far this year up to March 1, up slightly from 438 at the same time in 2013.

Izen said the LAPD’s traffic plan would make the roads safer and mentor a new generation of police officers on the importance of traffic enforcement. He would also like to see a reduction in the number of officers involved in traffic collisions.

“The bottom line is this: When I lose friends who are police officers or family members – when I lose them to traffic collisions – it is no less a loss than when I lose them to violence,” Izen said. 

Traffic collisions were the number one cause of death for on-duty police officers in 2013, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. Gunfire was the second leading cause of death.

Nationwide, 46 officers died in some sort of traffic collision last year; that’s two fewer than in 2012.

The Memorial Fund found traffic-related officer deaths have significantly fallen after peaking during the previous decade. But they still remain the leading cause of death for law enforcement officers.

Last month, an LAPD patrol officer was killed in a crash with a trash truck in Beverly Hills. His partner was seriously injured.

A Los Angeles police motorcycle officer is in the hospital after a suspected drunk driver crashed into him from behind Saturday afternoon.

“Pray for a miracle,” Izen said about the motorcycle officer. “He’s not nearly out of the woods. He’s in critical but stable condition. He’s not getting worse right now, but he’s a long way from getting better.”

Last October, the LAPD inspector general published a report that found many officers might not be wearing their seat belts while in the patrol car. The department doesn’t require officers to wear them.

The report suggests some officers needlessly place themselves at risk of getting hurt in a crash because they don't wear seat belts. Since then, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck has been encouraging officers to wear the safety restraints.

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