Four: That's how many pedestrian vs. motor vehicle accidents there have been on Post Road East in Westport since 2008. Three of those four accidents resulted in the death of pedestrians.
For Andrew Masi and several of his co-workers at Meryl L. Moss Media Relations Inc. on Post Road East across from the main post office, these statistics are troubling, especially because they cross the street every day to get to their office. That's why they would like to see more police enforcement of traffic laws.
Assigning officers to constantly monitor traffic at crosswalks on Post Road East may sound like an obvious solution, but Westport Police Capt. Sam Arciola said it's not that simple. "Our traffic unit targets these areas to curb violations of the law," Arciola said. "And we do have a motorcycle cop specifically assigned to areas where we receive complaints. But we can't be everywhere at once. If we could, we would."
Although it's not possible to have the police monitor crosswalks all day, every day, Arciola said his officers do enforce traffic laws if they see violations. Additionally, Deputy Police Chief Dale Call said the department is working on a comprehensive pedestrian safety plan that includes driver education, pedestrian education and enforcement.
Beyond more enforcement, Masi said he would like to see a bigger, brighter sign alerting drivers of the crosswalk. And because Post Road East is a state road, such decisions are made by the state Department of Transportation. Kevin Nursick, a spokesman for the DOT, said adding more or bigger signs isn't a foolproof solution because signs have an impact only when drivers pay attention to them.
"Folks oftentimes want more signage, and a lot times, that doesn't help," said Nursick. "Too much signage can actually detract from the safety aspect because drivers become numb to them."
When it comes to pedestrian safety in crosswalks, Nursick said no matter what measures the DOT takes to make infrastructures safer, the solution ultimately lies with drivers and pedestrians.
"Folks need to obey the rules of the road. Yes, it's incumbent on us to make safest infrastructure we can, and I don't see any feasible infrastructure change we can make there," he said. "This might not be very popular with people, but motorists need to step up to plate and obey law and pedestrians need make sure they're not exacerbating the problem."
Do you think the police or the state Department of Transportation should do more to make Post Road East safer for pedestrians?
(This story is Part 2 of two stories on pedestrian safety in Westport. The first part was published on March 17.)
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