In relation to Burbank’s road safety, examining the recent history of the most hazardous intersections in the city may indicate overall trends in driver vigilance and the effectiveness of alterations made by the City.
Currently, the City lists the three most dangerous intersections in Burbank as Victory Place and Burbank Boulevard (50 accidents between 2015 and 2020), Olive Avenue and Buena Vista Street (45 accidents between 2015 and 2020), and Buena Vista Street and Victory Boulevard (41 accidents between 2015 and 2020). Out of all collisions at these sites from 2015 to 2020, none resulted in fatalities, and only two resulted in severe injuries. In addition, both of these two more serious accidents, which took place at Olive Avenue and Buena Vista Street, involved a driver hitting a fixed object rather than another vehicle.
Between 2015 and 2018, all three intersections saw a gradual increase in accidents. Peak numbers were reached in 2018, with 12 accidents annually at Buena Vista and Olive as well as Burbank and Victory, and 11 accidents for the year at the Buena Vista and Victory intersection.
The City largely attributes accidents experienced at these locations to their overall heightened amount of traffic. Each of the three intersections experiences a passage of anywhere from 20,000 to 30,000 cars every day. Burbank and Victory is the busiest intersection in the City and sees a flow of over 6,400 vehicles every hour during afternoon rush times.
Most accidents experienced at these stops involve one driver turning on a yellow, while the through driver advances late in their yellow light, sometimes running a red light. The City has made efforts to compensate through increased light times for drivers, but this usually results in a fleeting decline in overall accidents.
“Signal timing in Burbank has always been conservative, providing more yellow and all-red time than required by Federal and State standards,” a City spokesperson said. “Historically, increases in yellow and all-red time have been followed by a reduction in accidents for a time, but after a few months, drivers become accustomed to the new timing and again begin to push the yellow and red clearance intervals.”
Other rationales for accidents are running red lights for alternate reasons, such as driving under the influence or with distractions. The City cites the AAA Foundation’s statistic that 28% of crash deaths which occur at signalized intersections are the result of a driver running through a red light, something that the City itself is unable to prevent through engineering efforts.
“Unfortunately, no amount of engineering or increasing of yellow or red signal timing would change these cases,” the City Spokesperson said of reckless drivers running red lights. “We are seeing more and more instances of minor ‘bump’ rear end collisions between vehicles waiting at a red light. These are again most likely due to distracted drivers not being aware that they have released their brake or have their head down while releasing their break.”
The number of accidents at the intersections has declined steadily since 2018, however, which the City notes can be attributed in part to stay-at-home orders from COVID-19. Even prior to the pandemic, however, 2019 accident numbers were reduced to a total of 7 accidents annually at both Buena Vista and Victory and Burbank and Victory, and a total of 4 accidents at the Buena Vista and Olive crossing. This figure of 4 annual accidents has remained for Buena Vista and Olive in 2020, while there have been zero reported accidents for the year at the remaining two intersections.
“Please note that the data we have for [the] year 2020 and beyond may be skewed by the pandemic’s impact on traffic volume,” the City Spokesperson said. “[Burbank] PD reported a sharp decrease in overall traffic collisions, including reported traffic collisions, due to COVID-19, the Safer at Home Order, and [a] reduced number of vehicles on our roadways. We will continue to monitor and analyze these locations to check the trending of accidents.”
Future updates to these locations are not currently planned by the City due to preexisting alterations, including Victory and Burbank being modified from a five-way intersection to its current pair of intersections as a part of the Costco development in 2001.
“The intersection is built out, all the left turn movements have protected green arrows, and the traffic signal is programmed to operate at its maximum efficiency,” the City Spokesperson said of the Victory/Burbank intersection. “So there is no plan for any changes other than equipment and hardware upgrades as part of our normal signal maintenance program.”
Furthermore, both The Buena Vista/Victory and Buena Vista/Olive stops were upgraded with new signals in 2017 by the Public Works Department’s Traffic Section. These updates came as a result of the Federal Highway Safety Improvement Program grant project, entitled the “Buena Vista Street Safety Improvement Project.”
“The project deployed signal timing plans, system parameters for traffic responsive plan selection, system detection, fiber optic connections, flashing yellow arrow and right turn overlap signals,” the City Spokesperson said. “[This was done with the] goal of enhancing safety by improving signal timing and traffic operations of 13 traffic signals on Buena Vista and 23 signals on crossing arterials.”
Prior to the addition of the yellow flashing arrows at Buena Vista and Olive, the total number of collisions for the time period of March of 2014 to 2017 was 22, while from March of 2017 to March of 2020 the total number of accidents was 27. This increased figure can largely be connected to 2017 and 2018 collisions, while the following two years have seen a much lower total number of accidents as drivers have adjusted to this update.
For tips on driving safely not just at these intersections, but throughout Burbank’s roadways, the City advises such suggestions as thinking safely, avoiding distracted driving, going the speed limit, and maintaining an awareness of bicyclists and pedestrians.
“The advice that the City has for Burbank residents would apply to driving in general rather than just at these three locations,” the City Spokesperson said. “Safe driving is the first step in preventing accidents on the road. Every driver is responsible to drive safely to ensure his and others safety.”
Below are the full list of tips from the City on safe driving:
- Think safety first
- Avoid distracted driving
- Go with the speed limit
- Plan ahead
- Be aware of your surroundings and know your blind spots
- Be wary of pedestrians and bicyclists
- Stay alert and awake and pay attention to the flow of traffic
- Follow all road signs and signal indications
- Yellow light doesn’t mean speed up to pass the intersection
- Keep a safe braking distance from the car in front
- Do not assume that the other drivers will stop for you
- Be aware of aggressive tailgaters and avoid road rage
- Avoid driving during inclement weather
- It is ok to miss your street; just make a turn on the next one
- Avoid hard braking, acceleration, and cornering
Where does your street stack up? Here is a list of traffic accidents with injuries during the past five years:
|Annual Total||375||537||602||606||586||633||5 yr total 3339|