3 Pedestrian Deaths Spur Stamford To Improve Traffic Safety

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Mayor David Martin speaks at the launching of the Stamford Street Smart initiative to improve traffic safety. At left is Sgt. Andrew Gallagher of the city police's traffic unit.
Mayor David Martin speaks at the launching of the Stamford Street Smart initiative to improve traffic safety. At left is Sgt. Andrew Gallagher of the city police's traffic unit. Photo Credit: Frank MacEachern
Stamford Police Chief Jonathan Fontneau warns motorists to obey the traffic laws or they will be ticketed at a press conference to announce the Stamford Street Smart initiative. From left Ted Jankowski, Public Safety Director and Mayor David Martin.
Stamford Police Chief Jonathan Fontneau warns motorists to obey the traffic laws or they will be ticketed at a press conference to announce the Stamford Street Smart initiative. From left Ted Jankowski, Public Safety Director and Mayor David Martin. Photo Credit: Frank MacEachern

STAMFORD, Conn. -- Shocked by three motor vehicle vs. pedestrian deaths in the city this year, Mayor David Martin announced that Stamford is looking at everything from police enforcement to education in an effort to improve traffic and pedestrian safety.

The city officially launched the Stamford Street Smart initiative on Wednesday. But police have been out on the streets since the beginning of the month, cracking down on motorists who are using their cell phones while driving or who are passing stopped school buses with their red lights flashing.

"No person should have to risk their life to cross the street or walking home from school," Martin said.

Four motorists were ticketed Tuesday, the first day of school, for driving past stopped school buses, Martin said.

"It is unacceptable to drive around school buses," he said.

Police will also be on the lookout for jaywalkers, Martin said.

On the engineering side, Stamford is reviewing all intersections to ensure the signs are clearly mounted and visible to all; improving crosswalk visibility; and synchronizing the city's traffic signals, Martin said.

The city will also work with the Board of Education and Health Department to educate residents and students on pedestrian, driver and cyclist safety, Martin said.

The education aspect of the program also includes hosting a Google Hangout to review in greater detail key statistics and to provide a more in depth discussion of the actions being undertaken. The city will work with community organizations to build awareness and support the Safe Routes to School Program.

Police Chief Jonathan Fontneau said officers will be out vigorously enforcing traffic laws across the city. He warned motorists that they may see a police officer in their window if they don't follow the law.

In the city's pedestrian deaths this year:

  • A 70-year-old woman, the mother of a police investigator, was killed by a hit-and-run driver on Easter Sunday while crossing Woodland Avenue.
  • A 65-year-old man was struck by a car and killed on Strawberry Hill Avenue near his home on May 30.
  • A Springdale woman was struck and killed while crossing Hoyt Street at Summer Street on July 21.
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Another serious issue not mentioned is speeding. I live on Strawberry Hill Ave... it's become a speedway! Cars speed up and down, well over the speed limit making it extremely dangerous, as witnessed by the pedestrian who was hit and killed back in May. Another serious problem is the traffic each morning between 7 and 7:30 am in front of the high school. Cars just stop in the middle of the road, the kids jump out then run between cars to cross the street. Horns blow, tires squeal. Two girls were hit there a few years ago... unless the city does something about this traffic nightmare it'll happen again. Let's hope they take action BEFORE someone else is killed on Strawberry Hill Speedway... uh, I mean Avenue.

I'm a bit surprised that the problem of drivers running red lights is not even mentioned in all of this. From what I have observed over the past decade, the most common traffic law being violated on a regular basis is drivers running red lights. I have witnessed it happening more than once right in full view of a patrol car at an intersection and the officer does nothing. I suspect this is because at this point it has become the norm and as a result law enforcement does it too.

It has become the accepted norm for drivers to run red lights and no-one seems to care anymore. In fact many drivers actually honk and get angry at you if you are driving the car in front of them and you don't run the light, there-by allowing them to run it. .... I have almost been broadsided twice because I was beginning to enter an intersection after my light had turned green, and a car suddenly came flying through the intersection in front of me as it ran right through a red light. ..... This is a serious problem and it needs to be addressed.

That 3 second delay between the time that your light turns red and the opposing light turns green is not there to allow you enough time to race through the intersection before the opposing traffic is able to start moving. It is there to ensure that the intersection is completely clear of any traffic before cars at the green light begin to enter the intersection.