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Traffic safety efforts to increase
traffic safety pic
The Turlock Police Department created a Traffic Safety video to help educate the public on issues such as crossing the street in a crosswalk and bicyclist rules of the road. The video can be found at the police department's Facebook page and on YouTube. - photo by Photo Contributed

In the wake of two fatal accidents involving pedestrians last week the Turlock Police Department is ramping up their efforts to reducing collisions around the city.

Last week saw the deaths of 20-year-old Benjamin Hudspeth on Nov. 3 and 18-year-old Glenn Cooper on Nov. 4. Both men were crossing busy streets at night when they were struck. In both cases the Turlock Police Department said they were either in or near a crosswalk, but were crossing against a red light.

Turlock has already seen more than its fair share of fatal or injury accidents, especially those involving pedestrians. The California Office of Traffic Safety examined traffic reports from 2013 for 103 like-sized cities and ranked them according to the rates of occurrences. Turlock was ranked 31st for collisions that resulted in fatalities or injuries, with 365 traffic collisions. For collision involving pedestrians Turlock was 44th with 22 collisions. Turlock was 40th for collisions involving bicyclists with 28 collisions, and 42nd in collisions involving motorcycles, with 12 collisions. 

In 2015, there were 847 accidents in Turlock, an increase of 2 percent from 2014. The number of non-injury accidents was at 571, an increase of 6 percent from the year prior. There were 276 injury accidents in 2015, which is a 2 percent decrease from 2014. In 2015, Turlock saw two fatalities from traffic collisions, which is a 75 percent decrease from the year prior. 

On March 1, the Turlock City Council adopted a multi-pronged Collision Reduction Strategy with a focus on reducing collisions that involved motorist and non-motorized users such as pedestrians and bicyclists. The strategy involves a partnership between the Turlock Police Department and the City of Turlock’s Engineering Department. The two agencies put a focus on education and awareness in the first stages, which included traffic safety workshops with community members to discuss general safety practices, problem areas, and possible solutions.

Helping the effort is a $110,000 grant the police department received from the California Office of Traffic Safety. This grant will be a year-long program and will be used for special enforcements and public awareness efforts to prevent and reduce traffic related deaths and injuries. The concentration will be on education and enforcement regarding adherence to traffic safety laws inclusive of distracted drivers, DUI, Bicycle adherence to traffic laws along with pedestrian awareness and compliance.

In the near future the police department plans on using electronic traffic messaging boards placed in strategic areas of the community to help promote awareness and education. They also are producing a series of traffic safety videos that will be shared on various social media platforms.