While stressing that Santa Clarita’s traffic-collision injury rate remains below the state average, officials on Tuesday unveiled a three-pronged “comprehensive traffic safety plan” they hope will make the city’s 60 square miles safer still for drivers and pedestrians.
City Manager Ken Striplin led a presentation to The Signal’s editorial board at which he outlined Santa’s Clarita’s “Three E’s” plan – a strategy that was delivered to City Council members back on Sept. 21, and sets future traffic-safety goals for the coming years.
The “Three E’s” stand for Enforcement, Education and Engineering — with specific goals in each category taken from data and other analysis compiled by a traffic safety team begun in October 2015.
The team was comprised of city officials, engineers and representatives of the Sheriff’s Department.
“We needed to do a comprehensive traffic-safety plan,” Striplin said.
The city manager presented traffic-collision data showing that traffic collisions have dropped from 1,183 in 2001 to 773 in 2015 – a span in which the city’s population and traffic rate increased appreciably. But he noted a mini-spike between 2014 and 2015, from 689 collisions to 773 – a 14 percent jump.
The city’s plan calls for, among other ideas, increased enforcement at 10 “hot spot” locations around the city, where collisions and injuries, sometimes fatal, are highest according the city’s data.
The “hot spots’’ are along Soledad Canyon Road, from Whites Canyon Road to Sierra Highway; Soledad Canyon Road from Valley Center Drive to Camp Plenty Road; Bouquet Canyon Road, from Magic Mountain Parkway to Valencia Boulevard; Newhall Ranch Road, from Bouquet Canyon Road to Golden Valley Road; Valencia Boulevard, from Rockwell Canyon Road to McBean Parkway; Bouquet Canyon Road, from Seco Canyon Road to Centurion Way; McBean Parkway, from Copper Hill Drive to Decoro Drive; Railroad Avenue, from 15th Street to Drayton Street; Golden Valley Road, from Centre Pointe Parkway to Robert C. Lee Parkway; and Whites Canyon Road, from Nadal Street to Steinway Street.
“Priority will be given to those locations,” the city’s report said.
Increased enforcement will also focus – at those locations and others – on specific causes of traffic incidents, prominently unsafe speed.
The education element of the plan focuses on highlighting to the public, through an information campaign, the top behaviors that lead to accidents, prominently red-light-running and texting while driving – so-called “distracted driving.” According to the report, statistics show that 79 percent of drivers acknowledge it is a serious problem, but most do it anyway.
That education push will extend into area schools, where there will be a push to get 10,000 students to sign pledges to drive safely and not in a “distracted” manner – that is, texting and talking on cell phones.
In addition, Striplin said “at least half” of incidents involving pedestrians were alcohol-involved.
“We’re trying to educate the pedestrians as well as the drivers,” he said.
The engineering aspect of the plan will focus on protected left-turn lanes, red-light violator detection units – some of which have already been installed around the city – plus various roadway alterations, including signal modifications, additional signs and striping, installation of guardrails, raised medians and turn restrictions.
Overall, the city’s plan is looking to reduce the traffic-collision rate by 5 percent in 2016, compared to 2015, and slash the number of pedestrian-involved incidents by 20 percent.