Preventing Traffic Deaths -The Critical Role of Clinicians
Traffic collisions are a leading cause of death for both adults and children in Los Angeles County. Clinicians have an opportunity to support Vision Zero, a multidisciplinary effort to end traffic fatalities in LA County. In the
July 2019 issue of Rx for Prevention, DPH describes concrete actions clinicians can take to advance traffic safety including: engaging patients in conversations about practicing safe transportation behaviors, sharing their first-hand experiences about victims of traffic collisions to promote culture change, advocating for local policy changes, and encouraging their patients to get involved with local advocacy efforts.
Health Effects of Air Pollution Associated
with Development Near Freeways and High-Volume Roads
Studies indicate that residing near sources of traffic
pollution is associated with adverse health effects
including asthma in children, impaired lung function,
and cardiovascular disease morbidity and mortality.
Given the preponderance of highly trafficked roadways in
Los Angeles County and existing and new development near
these roads, the Los Angeles County Department of Public
Health prepared "Public Health Recommendations to
Minimize the Health Effects of Air Pollution Associated
with Development Near Freeways and High-Volume Roads.”
These recommendations are intended for developers,
planners, government officials, and others working on
development within your jurisdiction.
How do pedestrians fare in motor vehicle collisions?
DPH used data from the Los Angeles County Emergency Medical Services Agency trauma database to evaluate outcomes for people hit by a car while walking. Over a two-year period, 4713 people were hit and 235 of them died – that’s two people per week (see infographic). People hit at speeds greater than 20 mph were more likely to be injured, disabled or die than people hit speeds under 20 mph (see brief).
Direct costs of medical care for bicyclist and pedestrian victims
To place in perspective the economic losses that result from motor vehicle crashes, DPH calculated the minimum direct costs of medical care for pedestrian and bicyclist victims of motor vehicle collisions in Los Angeles County. In 2014, direct costs were $63.4 million (see
Step by Step LA County: Pedestrian Plans for Unincorporated Communities
Step by Step LA County provides a policy framework for how the County proposes to get more people walking, make walking safer and support healthy active lifestyles and includes Community Pedestrian Plans with pedestrian safety projects for the unincorporated communities of
Lake Los Angeles,
Free Trees for Unincorporated Residents
Trees cool our neighborhoods, clean the air and water, improve our health, and save energy. Unincorporated LA County residents can request a free street tree from Public Works!
Visit their Parkway Trees website and click on Tree Planting to request yours.
If you live in the City of Los Angeles,
visit the City Plants website to request free trees for your home or neighborhood.
Traffic collisions are on the rise in
unincorporated Los Angeles County. Between 2013 and
2017, fatal collisions increased nearly 28 percent.
Three hundred eighty-three (383) people lost their lives
during that 5-year period. Each year, on average, over
80 people are killed each year in traffic collisions
with more than 500 severely injured on roadways the
To address this public health threat, the County of
Los Angeles developed
Vision Zero Los Angeles County: A
Plan for Safer Roadways to guide a new traffic safety
initiative focused on eliminating traffic-related deaths
on unincorporated County roadways by 2035. The new
initiative, Vision Zero, involves collaboration from
multiple County departments and the California Highway
Patrol to focus resources to the areas with the highest
concentrations of fatal and severe injury collisions.
VisionZeroLACounty.com to read the Plan and learn
more about this important initiative.
The development of the draft Vision Zero Action Plan
is in response to a February 2017
motion directing County staff to move forward with a
Vision Zero initiative for unincorporated areas. The
motion instructed staff to implement the strategies
described in a February 2017
Vision Zero Report that presented data on traffic
deaths and severe injuries in unincorporated areas and
recommended specific actions for moving forward. The DPH
PLACE Program is co-leading this initiative in
partnership with the
County Department of Public Works.
In January 2017, the City of Los Angeles released a
Vision Zero Action Plan and
Safety Study. Together, they describe the landscape
of traffic deaths and severe injuries on Los Angeles’
streets, and identify concrete next steps to reduce
them. The Action Plan and Safety Study resulted from a
2015 Mayoral Directive that established the goal of
eliminating traffic deaths in the city by 2025 and
reducing deaths by 20% by the end of 2017. Vision Zero
uses a data driven approach to identify where and why
traffic collisions occur and implements proven solutions
to reduce loss of life. These comprehensive solutions
include engineering, education, and enforcement
strategies; ongoing evaluation to ensure effectiveness;
and an emphasis on equity and engagement to prioritize
community needs. Several PLACE staff were embedded in
the City’s Transportation Department and tasked with
supporting efforts to promote walking in the City. To
learn more, visit the City’s Vision Zero website:
Youth-Led Community Tree Planting Project
In February 2017, Supervisor Hilda Solis launched a tree
planting initiative called “Life is Better with Trees”
that will help provide shade, clean air, cooler
temperatures and a better quality of life for residents
in urban neighborhoods. The PLACE team is collaborating with the District 1
Los Angeles County Department of Public Works,
the San Gabriel Valley Conservation Corps and other
community partners as a project of the
Workgroup’s Tree Committee.
Over 2,000 trees will be planted in Valinda, Bassett,
Walnut Park and East Los Angeles. The
and Recreation Plans were used to identify low tree
canopy neighborhoods. A new public education and
community engagement model is being piloted in which
community organizations from these neighborhoods
recruited local, at-risk youth who were trained to
provide tree education and outreach to residents.
The Conservation Corp is also providing rigorous
job and life skills training to young adults who will
also be trained to plant the trees, while working on
their GED or required community service.
It is hoped
that these collective efforts will result in higher
acceptance rates of trees, better tree survival, and
overall improvements in the social determinants of
health in these neighborhoods. Read
Life is Better with Trees.
Building Awareness about Equity and the Social
Determinants of Health
The social determinants of health are the conditions
in which people are born, grow, live, work, and age.
These circumstances, such as access to high-quality
education, housing, and financial resources, are the
most responsible for health inequities - the unfair and
avoidable differences in health status seen within and
between communities. Building broad awareness and
understanding of the social determinants of health and
the policies that have created health inequities is an
important step to move towards racial equity, social
justice, and healthier communities. In order to support
this goal, the PLACE program developed two GIS Story
Health Hazards: How Our Environments Shape Us” and
“Let’s Walk!” The Story Maps can be embedded and linked
from any website, and should be broadly used for
education to connect the dots around what determines
health and overcoming barriers to walking. In addition,
the PLACE program is supporting the Department of
Regional Planning’s (DRP) Equitable Development Work
Program through the Healthy Design Workgroup. DRP
reports regularly to the Board with