The Rapidly Rising Collision Count

The Increase in Incidents on LA Roadways is Outpacing the Rest of the Nation

By Zara Abrams

More cars collide at the intersection of Sepulveda Boulevard and South Vermont Avenue in West Carson than almost anywhere else in the country. Cars and truck zoom through four lanes in each direction while pedestrians congregate around three bus stops and an assortment of fast food restaurants.

There have been 281 collisions at Sepulveda and Vermont since 2012, making it a key player in Los Angeles’ out-of-pace rise in accidents. This year, collisions in Los Angeles have already surpassed last year’s total by 23 percent, and the 2012 total by 16 percent. This compares with a 3.8 percent rise in car accidents nationwide in the past year and a 15 percent rise since 2012, according to data from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.

Accidents can happen anywhere, but there are a handful of intersections where they’re much more likely to occur. Four dangerous intersections made LA’s top 10 list for the past five years running: Colima Road and Fullerton Road, Colima Road and Nogales Street (both in Rowland Heights), South Hacienda Boulevard and Gale Avenue (in Hacienda Heights) and South Vermont Avenue and Sepulveda Boulevard (in West Carson).

These bear some common features: All four intersections are within a quarter mile of a major freeway. Most see between 50 and 70 collisions each year, and the worst see up to 90. Four other intersections were among the 10 most dangerous intersections for three consecutive years.

In a partnership with the Integrated Media Systems Center at USC’s Viterbi School of Engineering, data obtained from California Highway Patrol reports was used to map the city’s most dangerous surface street intersections. The data covers Los Angeles County, Orange County and the Inland Empire.

Incidents that were not true collisions, such as road hazards and other anomalies, were filtered out to highlight accidents involving automobiles, cyclists and pedestrians. Collisions logged between January 1, 2012 and December 31, 2016 were included in the analysis.

Linda Janisse, who has been a resident of West Carson since 1959, waits for the 550 bus at the Northwest corner of Vermont & Sepulveda every day. She said she witnessed an accident here last year: one car ran a red light and crashed into another.

This is where it’s bad, she says, pointing to a part of the intersection where she’s seen several near-collisions. There’s debris in the road and a decimated railroad tie nearby.

Use the accompanying map to explore the city’s most dangerous spots by total number of collisions, and view photos of each.