Fatal crashes raise questions over unsafe driving

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The collision on Golden Valley Road that killed a 31-year-old Tuesday was the second fatal crash just over two weeks into 2018, and several agencies are working to address concerns about speed and road safety in Santa Clarita.

Data from the Santa Clarita Valley’s law enforcement officials indicated 33 people died in crashes or collisions in 2017.

Last year, the Newhall station of the California Highway Patrol responded to 19 fatal crashes that killed 24 people. Of the 19 crashes, seven were credited to unsafe speed, six were deemed to be caused by “unsafe turning movement,” and three were caused by driving under the influence, according to CHP data.

CHP officials said that despite the number of collisions, the amount represents a 7.9 percent reduction from the previous year. The agency’s goal was 5 percent.

Officials at the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station said they responded to eight fatal traffic collisions that killed nine people total. Station spokeswoman Shirley Miller said the station has been concerned with drivers on portions of Golden Valley Road.

“We have issued quite a few citations issued for unsafe speed on Golden Valley Road,” Miller said, adding most drivers cited were going about 80 mph and primarily driving between Robert C. Lee and Centre Pointe parkways.

The posted speed limit on Golden Valley Road between Plum Canyon Road and Sierra Highway is 50 mph.

Deputies issued 73 citations on Golden Valley Road between Dec. 31 and Jan. 6 and 42 citations were issued between Christmas Eve and Dec. 30, Miller said. The number of citations does not include the unincorporated stretch from Dorothy Street to Plum Canyon Road.

“Take a deep breath, enjoy the scenery, and if you start coasting downhill at a faster rate of speed—apply more pressure on the brakes to keep it at a reasonable speed,” the station posted on social media last week in response to the citations. “We realize that’s not a new revelation, but you’d be amazed how many motorists state that was the reason they were substantially exceeding the speed limit.”

When told the number of citations Wednesday, City Councilman Cameron Smyth said he couldn’t imagine a stretch of road in the city with more citation numbers.

“I’ve received a number of complaints about the speed on Golden Valley Road,” he said.

Officials with Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger’s office said they would consult with law enforcement officials to find ways to address concerns along the road.

Tuesday’s crash, on Golden Valley Road at Dorothy Street, was just outside Santa Clarita city limits in a patch of unincorporated Los Angeles County. The crash occurred less than two miles away from an Oct. 6 crash that killed a mother of six on Golden Valley Road near Valley Center Drive. Both crashes are under investigation due to law enforcement officials’ suspicions that alcohol is involved.

“There really is no excuse,” Smyth said, citing the popularity of ridesharing services like Lyft and Uber, “(to be) drinking and driving.”

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