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Questions Linger About Success Of LA Mayor Eric Garcetti's Traffic Death Program

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) -- It's been four years since Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti started his Vision Zero program to curb traffic deaths.

Parents and community members are wondering if the initiatives are working.

Liliana Trujillo-Puckett got emotional as she stood at the intersection where her 16-year-old daughter Valentina was killed.

"I don't know where she was laying down. I don't know where her last breath was," Trujillo-Puckett said.

The deadly Dec. 2013 crash was a result of street racing at the intersection of Anaheim and Avalon in Wilmington.

Valentina was one of several passengers in the car but she was the only one who died.

"People just past there like nothing, not knowing that there was a life lost due to something that could have been prevented."

Garcetti launched his Vision Zero program in 2015 in hopes of eliminating traffic deaths in the city by 2025.

Numbers show that since the program began, traffic fatalities have gone up by nearly 33 percent.

"Unfortunately, it's worse. Texting and driving is at its highest," Trujillo-Puckett said. "Street racing has doubled and drunk driving."

In 2019, there were 244 traffic-related deaths across the city.

That's less than a one-percent decrease from the previous year.

Hit-and-runs are also up by 69 percent in the last five years.

Los Angeles Police Chief Michael Moore stressed in a press conference in December that drivers need to stop.

"The key for hit and runs for me is this: It's an accident. Don't make it a crime," Moore said.

Many crosswalks, intersections and traffic signals have been modified across the city, but Trujillo-Puckett believes the mayor's office needs to create more awareness.

In response, she has started her own non-profit, Street Racing Kills, which educates teens and parents about the dangers behind the wheel.

"It's hard being here but I just want to make sure this doesn't happen to anyone," Trujillo-Puckett.

The mayor's office has not yet responded for comment.

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