Oakland Makes Safety Improvements in Response to Pedestrian’s Death

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Oakland's Department of Transportation has completed several traffic safety improvements at the site where a hit-and-run driver struck and killed a 45-year-old woman as she walked with her 4-year-old niece last month.

Huong Truong, 45, of Oakland, was killed and her niece was injured in the collision was reported at Foothill Boulevard and 22nd Avenue, just outside Garfield Elementary School, at 11:19 a.m. on Oct. 1.

Authorities said the driver was making a left turn at a signalized intersection but failed to yield to the people in the crosswalk, a crash pattern that accounts for four times the rate of severe and fatal crashes as compared drivers making right turns.

The Department of Transportation said that in response to the fatal collision it tested a new left turn traffic calming tool: hardened centerlines that keep drivers from making quick turns.

"There's been a history of concern about traffic safety along the Foothill corridor," City Councilwoman Nikki Fortunato Bas, who represents the District 2 area where the collision occurred, said in a statement.

Furtunato Bas said, "I thank the Department of Transportation for its immediate safety improvements and will continue to work with our City staff and community to help ensure a tragedy like the loss of our neighbor, beloved mother and wife, Ms. Truong, never happens again."

Department of Transportation Director Ryan Russo said, "Our department was formed to provide the safest possible streets for every person in Oakland, especially those who are most reliant on walking and public transit to get around," such as low-income people, communities of color, seniors, people with disabilities and children.

Russo said, "Innovative responses like these are how we will deliver on this important responsibility as we challenge ourselves to do better for Oaklanders and transform streets in a matter of weeks, rather than years."

In coordination with elected leaders, the Department of Transportation also met with families, students, and school staff at Garfield Elementary to work quickly toward improvements.

Transportation officials said the improvements that were made aim to tackle the top factors that lead to traffic deaths nationwide and in Oakland: speeding and failing to stop for people walking.

They said vehicles traveling at higher speeds are more likely to kill or severely injure people walking and bicycling in a crash and drivers traveling at higher speeds are also less likely to yield to people walking, because it takes longer to slow down.

Transportation officials said that even though they constantly work to improve safety for pedestrians, cyclists, transit riders and drivers, tragedies still occur far too often because Oakland sees an average of two severe or fatal injuries from traffic crashes every week.

They said they have been developing a "Swift and Effective" rapid response protocol in which they deploy crash prevention tools immediately after crashes take place that could have been prevented.

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