By Ken Striplin
As we embark upon another year in Santa Clarita, I want to share information on a topic that is at the top of many residents’ minds: traffic safety.
Keeping all of our community members safe on the roads is one of the most important things we do as a city. I am happy to report that 2018 proved to be one of the safest on record – thanks to the coordinated effort of city staff, our sheriff’s deputies and residents who heeded the call to be a “heads up” driver, pedestrian or cyclist.
One key metric that shows our streets are safe is the fact that there were zero pedestrian or cyclist fatalities resulting from collisions in 2017 and 2018. This is something we can all be proud of and it is the result of road enhancements and measures taken to improve cyclist and pedestrian safety. In my monthly message to community members in September 2018, I discussed the dangers of distracted driving, especially the use of cell phones, when you are behind the wheel. At that time, I shared that the collision rate in Santa Clarita was tracking below numbers from 2017 and that collisions involving cyclists or resulting in injuries were also on the decline.
With 2018 behind us there is now a clearer picture of the statistics gathered by the city’s traffic safety team, which includes personnel from the Santa Clarita Valley Sherriff’s Station and the city’s traffic engineers. Based on available data through October 2018 and using a five-year monthly conservative average to project November and December, the city’s annual collision rate is down to 651 (per 100,000 population). This represents a 14-percent decrease in the number of overall collisions in Santa Clarita and is the lowest the collision rate since 2001.
This result is due to the work put in by both residents and the traffic safety team. Through increased enforcement of traffic laws, including concentrated patrols in high-risk areas of Santa Clarita, motor deputies with the Sheriff’s Department increased productivity by 13 percent last year. Analyzing data and engineering solutions to traffic congestion, as well as education through public safety messaging and programs also contribute. Together, the three E’s show that unsafe driving behavior, such as speeding, running red lights and using a cell phone, will not be tolerated and continues to be a top priority for enforcement.
City staff work hand in hand with the Sheriff’s Department to analyze key metrics related to collisions that do occur on our streets and discover trends that can contribute to the problem. The team also studies major corridors and intersections in the city to determine what road and traffic improvements need to be made to improve safety for residents, including protected left turn signals, speed humps in residential areas and recommendations for changes to posted speed limits.
The third and most critical group that is instrumental in keeping Santa Clarita streets safe is the public. I want to thank you all for your overwhelming response to traffic safety messaging, like the city’s award-winning “Heads Up” campaign, and your commitment to reducing collisions and injuries. With your support, Santa Clarita has shown that it can be a growing and vibrant city while remaining safe for all who use our roads.
In order to build on the momentum from 2018, I ask you to take time to review good habits with drivers in your family and reinforce with your children how they can stay safe on bikes and when crossing the street. For more tips and statistics related to traffic safety in Santa Clarita, please visit our “Heads Up” campaign website at santa-clarita.com/HeadsUp.