Monday, June 8, 2015

New report suggests as many as 7.2 truck crashes per mile near Port of Los Angeles

Busy stretches of freeway in Los Angeles annually average from 5 to more than 7 commercial truck crashes per mile, according to a recent report in The L.A. Times.

Those so-called crash “hot spots” include the 710 at the 60 in the East L.A. Interchange (7.2 accidents); the 710 between the 105 and the 91 (5.8 accidents); the convergence of the 60 and the 57 (six crashes); and the 5 between the 710 and the 10, also in the East L.A. Interchange (6.6 crashes) according to a Los Angeles Times news report on June 2.

The data comes from an analysis of 2012 crash reports from the California Highway Patrol. The report was put together by the Southern California Association of Governments, a regional planning agency that has been studying truck accidents and locations as part of developing a regional transportation plan for a six-county area that includes Los Angeles. The agency believes that by identifying hot spots, they can recommend steps to reduce crashes.

The report states that human error is the leading cause of traffic accidents, although whether the error belongs to a human operating a truck or a human operating a passenger vehicle isn’t specified.

Officials with SCAG and the California Department of Transportation say other factors in those areas also contribute to the high crash rates, including congestion, limited capacity, areas with lots of merging traffic, and the constant interface of big rigs and smaller vehicles.

The 710 is a major route into the Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach, the nation’s largest combined harbor, and the 60 is also a major truck route running east and west. The report notes that the Los Angeles area also is one of the busiest in the country, if not the world, for trucking with more than 43,000 daily truck trips on the 710; up to 27,000 on the 60; and another 21,500 on the I-5 freeway, according to Caltrans.

The report states that the second-highest number of truck crashes can be found on three parts of the 60 between the 605 and the 710, between the 15 and the 71 (the Chino Valley Highway, formerly known as the Corona Expressway), and immediately east of the 215. The category includes the 10 between the 71 and the 215, the 605 between the 60 and the 10, and the 710 between the 91 and the Port of Long Beach as well as between the 5 and the 105.

The data about truck crash hot spots could play an important part in building a long-term solution. Both Caltrans and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority are studying building either elevated “truckways” – dedicated routes of travel for commercial vehicles only – or reconfiguring the 710 with an additional lane on each side and bypasses for trucks.

A series of fixes are already underway at the convergence of the 60 and 57 freeways including new on- and off-ramps the eastbound 60, at a cost of about $53 million. Construction is expected to begin this fall and be completed by spring 2017. Officials say a particularly treacherous two-mile stretch in Diamond Bar has more than 600 accidents of all types per year.