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LAPD traffic crackdown targets Valley streets

FILE: LAPD held a demonstration of traffic enforcement targeting San Fernando Valley streets Friday.
FILE: LAPD held a demonstration of traffic enforcement targeting San Fernando Valley streets Friday.
Andrew Bardwell /Flickr Creative Commons

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The Los Angeles Police Department is cracking down on traffic violations at dangerous intersections in the San Fernando Valley, but officers are hampered in issuing tickets for speeding, a major factor in injury and fatality crashes.

Officers in five squad cars and on a couple motorcycles clustered around a corner of Victory Boulevard in North Hollywood Friday as part of an enforcement demonstration for the news media.

"Everyone has to realize that they’re responsible for their safety and everyone else’s safety," said Lieutenant David Ferry, who led a task force monitoring five Valley intersections as part of the city’s new safety initiative, Vision Zero.

Vision Zero aims to eliminate traffic fatalities by focusing engineering and enforcement efforts on problem streets that see the highest proportion of serious crashes.

"We’re looking for red light violations, right of way violations these are the major moving violations that cause collisions that cause property damage, injuries and death," Ferry said.

But officers have a hard time ticketing for one of the most dangerous violations – speeding.  

Under state law, police can only use radar or laser to monitor streets that have been studied by the city in recent years. And three-quarters of LA streets haven’t been. 

As a result, LAPD can't enforce speed limits on the majority of city streets, police told the City Council's transportation committee last week.

The L.A. Department of Transportation is working to update the expired street surveys, but it could take several years. Under the newly approved budget, the department will get two new employees to help with the backlog of expired studies.

However, there remains concern that new street surveys could trigger speed limit increases. This is because the speed limit recommendations are based on average speeds observed. To prevent this, city officials are pushing state lawmakers to change the law governing speed limits to better dovetail with safety concerns.

The Valley intersections targeted in the enforcement crackdown are regarded as dangerous because of the number of serious crashes that have occurred in those locations. They're part of what city officials call the "High Injury Network," the top 6 percent of city streets where two-thirds of serious crashes occur.

They include:

• Victory Boulevard at Laurel Canyon Boulevard

• Coldwater Canyon Avenue at Vanowen Street

• Sepulveda Boulevard at  Nordhoff Street

• Devonshire Street at Woodley Avenue

• Roscoe Boulevard at DeSoto Avenue