LA traffic fatalities soar in 2022, surpassing 300 deaths for the first time in two decades

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Traffic fatalities rose again in Los Angeles last year, with 300 killed on city streets — the highest number in at least two decades, city officials said.

According to data from the Los Angeles Police Department, 312 people were killed in traffic accidents last year, up 5% from 2021 and up 29% from 2020.

LA streets remain particularly deadly for pedestrians and cyclists, with 159 deaths in collisions with pedestrians and motorists, an increase of 19% from 2021, and 20 deaths in collisions with cyclists and motorists, an increase of 11%.

LA traffic casualties in 2022 exceeded national trends.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that the number of road fatalities nationwide in the first nine months of 2022 remained almost flat compared to 2021. The number of cyclist and pedestrian fatalities increased nationwide last year, but was lower than the percentage increase in LA

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The LA numbers were dismayed by activist groups, which have long been urging City Hall to spend more money and staff on Vision Zero, the city’s program to end road deaths by 2025.

“It’s frustrating and irritating,” said Damian Kevitt, executive director of the nonprofit Streets Are For Everyone. “All of these fatalities are preventable.”

Connie Llanos, interim general manager of the LA Transportation Department, said Angelenos must “recognize that the way we drive can save lives or take them.” Such fatalities disproportionately involve children, seniors and the displaced in communities of color and poverty, Llanos said.

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“No one should accept this,” she said.

According to police, the “highest risk intersections” at 2022 were Soto Street and Washington Boulevard in South LA, Florence and Vermont Avenues in South LA, Balboa Boulevard and Saticoy Street in Lake Balboa, and Cahuenga Boulevard and Selma Avenue in Hollywood.

A spokesman for the city transportation department said that in 2003, the first year data was readily available, 242 people died in collisions. In 2015 — the year then-mayor Eric Garcetti unveiled Vision Zero — 186 people were killed in road fatalities.

The Vision Zero program is based on the belief that fatal traffic accidents can be prevented through technology and education. The program has proven effective in Europe, where it began in Sweden more than two decades ago, and in New York City, which introduced it in 2014.

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New York City officials reported last week that total traffic deaths are down 6.6% by 2022, while pedestrians are down 6.3%. Overall, traffic deaths have dropped by a third since the year before Vision Zero began, the city said.

Michael Schneider, CEO of the advocacy group Streets for All, is among those calling on LA to stop paying “lip service” to Vision Zero and implement real infrastructure changes. He said LA streets are designed for driver convenience, whether it’s parking stalls or speed limits.

“If we want these numbers to drop, we have to build our streets to protect lives first,” Schneider said.