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It’s Time to Improve Safety At Laurel/Empire Intersection


There was yet another accident last night at the Laurel/Empire intersection in Oakley just after 7:00 pm last night which off the top of my head is the fourth accident there since September which is equating to one accident a month.

According to Chief Bani Kollo, the incident was a two vehicle collision with one vehicle making a left turn from Laurel to Empire. While witnesses put the driver going through the intersection on a green light while appears the vehicle making the left was on a red.  The end result was a single light come down and a road closure.

The incident report shows that responders were on scene within two-minutes and the duration of the event was 30-minutes.

While last night’s accident and injuries were deemed “minor”, others have not been as fortunate.

Back in September, 25-year-old Oakley resident Joseph Pratt died following the 3 p.m. collision, which occurred at the intersection of Laurel Road and Empire Avenue. At least one of the three vehicles involved overturned and caught fire after the crash.

According to the Federal Highway Administration, intersection and intersection–related crashes consistently make up a high proportion of total fatal crashes, up to 23 percent. More than 50 percent of the combined fatal and injury crashes occur at intersections.

It may be time for the City of Oakley and the City Council to look at ways to improving safety at the intersection. Whether it be additional police monitoring the area more often, install flashing lights 50-to-100 yards alerting drivers that the light is about to change to red, something must be done.

There is now a pattern formed and it’s time to look at improving safety precautions and figure out a way for drivers to be better protected.


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7 Responses »

  1. I like the idea of puttig up flashing alerts but as you sometimes day, you cant fix stupid.

  2. It is not the road or the intersection that is the issue. The issue is with the drivers and the driving patterns in our city. The possibility to receive a ticket is very slim. Additional warning lights or signs won’t fix the problem. The only way to correct bad driving patterns is to change them. The police dept and especially the two traffic officers need to go out and do a zero tolerance traffic enforcement. And the City Council needs to back them 100% when people start coming to council meetings complaining that they got a ticket for doing 41 in a 35, speeding up to go through a yellow in a effort to beat the red (speed unsafe for conditions) etc. there are lots of things that could be done through enforcement that would get peoples attention. Negative re-enforcement and a day in court tends to work!

    • I disagree, you need additional signage and warning lights on signal changes. Come at it from all angles including increased cop patrol. Yes, more tickets are needed. Oakley has a lot of stupid drivers so why not let the city profit from it until our patterns change.

      • REALLY!!! If people are not looking forward and see the lights ahead of them, what makes you think that another sign indicating signals ahead or flashing lights will work. The city has already wasted a ton of money putting in those stupid speed signs that flash your speed. In front of Laurel Elem I saw the sign flash 50 at a car and it didn’t slow it down at all. It kept going, ran the light at Brown and then turned right onto Empire, again not stopping for the red. Is this unusual?? NO , it is common all over the city. There are no regard for the traffic laws. Yesterday I almost got rear-ended at Picasso and E. Cypress. Going West toward Main Street, A car in the #1 lane stopped to make a u-turn. never mind that there isn’t a turn lane and there is a sign RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE DRIVER on the signal indicating NO LEFT TURN OR U-TURN. The driver behind me not expecting the driver in front of me to stop almost got me. Signs are not going to fix the problem. Its time for people driving cars to learn that there are rules that they must follow. Turn off their damn phones, turn the radio/cd down and start driving beyond the hood of the car. And the police dept needs to take the gloves off and start educating the driving public. And I don’t mean the feel good oh you made a mistake education. You are going to have to hit them in pocket to get their attention. Maybe after a few tickets, time at traffic court and increased insurance cost, the message will be received. Doubt it but I can hope.

    • I think my facebook post to the article says it all which I did not include in the article which Rob stated. “of course, if people are running red lights… you cant fix stupid.”

      Greater prevention is needed whether its more cops or something else, but something needs to be done. I was simply throwing out solutions to be a part of the discussion to fix this problem area where we now have 1 major accident a month.

  3. Having worked in law enforcement for most of my adult life I can tell you that signs and warning lights is not going to solve the problem there. If drivers are not seeing/paying attention to the signals, what makes anyone think they will see more signs, or flashing lights. Throwing more money at the “roadway improvements” is not the answer, enforcement is. Be that a zero tolerance speed enforcement campaign, or using the existing traffic safety trailers.If there was a line of sight issue, warning lights might be a solution, but that is not the issue there. OPD is short handed we all know that, so they are not to blame for not being able to be there for long periods of time, but they do need to make an extra effort when possible to make enforcement stops all along Laurel.

    The speed limit on this roadway is largely ignored from one end to the other. It is not unusual to see vehicles at or near freeway speed from the by-pass to Empire. One look at some of the locked wheel skids at Neroly and Empire will tell the story of the excessive speeds eastbound. It is easy to figure out why the speed limit is ignored. From the by-pass to Main st there are speed limits of 45, 40, 35, 25 (for the school zone) and back to 40 after O’Hara then another 25 for special driving area at the park. Driving habits need to be altered throughout the city, reeducation through negative enforcement is an effective way to doing that. Blaming the roadway for the actions of drivers makes about as much sense as blaming a fork for overeating during the holidays.

  4. My name is Joan Jentzen Pratt, the mother of Joseph Pratt, killed at that intersection on September 28, 2012. Although the accident that took my son’s life is still under investigation, I too have wondered about the safety of that intersection and I will not drive through there!

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