LAPD Valley Traffic Division Capt. Jeffrey Hollis giving a press conference in front of the station to inform pedestrians on safe walking and driving. (G. Arizon/SFVS)

In Panorama City, not far from the LAPD Valley Traffic Division building, lies the intersection of Van Nuys and Roscoe boulevards. In 2020, a study found that there were 40 reported traffic collisions at this one intersection the previous year, making it one of the most dangerous in Los Angeles.

As the number of fatal traffic accidents have been increasing in the San Fernando Valley, the LAPD Valley Traffic Division held a pedestrian safety event to inform the public on safe walking and driving.

“So thus far, year to date in 2023, we had 63 fatal traffic collisions, and that’s just in the San Fernando Valley itself,” Valley Traffic Division Capt. Jeffrey Hollis said. “This is unfortunately a 13 percent increase since last year. Of the 63 fatal traffic collisions, 27 involved vehicles versus pedestrian traffic … and that in and of itself is a 23 percent increase [from last year].”

Hollis continued by breaking down the numbers: of the 27 pedestrian fatalities, seven involved homeless individuals, 18 occurred during hours of darkness, 13 were persons ages 55 and over and pedestrians were deemed the primary person at fault for 21 of these cases.

The police captain said there are two factors that are not accounted for in the statistics: roadways in the valley can reach up to six lanes, giving the perception that there is less traffic and resulting in speeding drivers, and that there has been a significant increase in the overall amount of traffic on the roadway since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hollis added that pedestrians can sometimes have a false sense of security that they have the right of way versus vehicles, resulting in these accidents.

“We’re not sure that the perception of the public has adjusted to this change,” Hollis said. “Pedestrians may still be used to a decrease in traffic due to the pandemic and because of that behavior, like walking in the roadway — which was relatively safer when there was almost no traffic during the pandemic — are now really dangerous activities.”

In the hope of reducing the number of possible pedestrian deaths, Hollis gave tips on what to avoid when you’re going out and about on foot: wearing dark clothing at night, walking on a roadway and walking on the street.

Other safety tips include crossing only at marked crosswalks, making eye contact with drivers before stepping in front of their car, always looking before crossing and to avoid texting and walking.

Furthermore, Hollis added that when people are in groups, particularly children, they can display what he described as “herd behavior,” where the individuals were so distracted by socializing or looking down at their phones that they don’t see where they’re walking. He said that sharing general safety awareness tips and encouraging people to be more attentive can reduce these accidents.

To help spread the message, officers will be going to a variety of locations throughout the valley and will be working with community groups to pass out safety flyers and items including bike lights, reflective T-shirts and other safety equipment to increase the visibility of pedestrians walking.