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Fine-tuning plan to eliminate fatalities on LA streets

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 27: Pedestrians cross the intersection of 3rd Avenue and 14th Street, one of Manhattan's most dangerous crosswalks for pedestrians, on October 27, 2014 in New York City. Four  pedestrians have been killed in the last few weeks in New York City while a total of 212 people have been killed in total  traffic deaths so far this year. These numbers have added to the urgency of Mayor Bill de Blasio's Vision Zero program, which aims to eliminate city traffic deaths. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Spencer Platt/Getty Images
FILE: The city of Los Angeles' Vision Zero plan calls for eliminating street fatalities in 10 years.

The city of Los Angeles has begun to fine-tune its plan to eliminate traffic deaths, holding focus groups in communities through this week to develop ideas on possible approaches.

City officials launched their Vision Zero campaign last year with the lofty goal of ending traffic fatalities over the next 10 years.

It's part of an international effort begun in Sweden and adopted by major cities around the U.S. The idea is to change the mindset that loss of human life is inevitable on our roads.

The campaign encourages officials to make safety – not speed – the top priority on city streets. Early analysis of statistics shows California saw about a 10 percent jump in pedestrian fatalities in 2015.

The city will be gathering feedback on ideas like engineering streets with features such as bike lanes or curb bulb-outs that slow car traffic and better enforcement to reduce deadly violations like speeding and illegal turns.

Currently, police in L.A. cannot use radar or laser to enforce speeds on about three-quarters of city streets because the L.A. Department of Transportation has fallen behind in completing speed surveys on roads, which the state first requires.

The transportation department received funding to double its workforce to survey streets in this year's budget to address the problem, but the surveys could result in higher speed limits. That's because the surveys determine the average speed of driving on the streets and that can lead to higher limits. 

While the focus groups are invitation-only, the city plans to hold open public meetings on Vision Zero approaches in the next year.