Accidents Continue To Happen

Yesterday’s post — citing Police Department statistics refuting the idea on “06880” and other blogs of a recent upsurge in automobile accidents — brought plenty of comments.  And a few private emails.

One came from Dale Call, the deputy chief who sent out the info I quoted.  In the interest of continuing this conversation — and because, let’s face it, who wants to get on the cops’ bad side? — I’m passing along his latest thoughts.

First, he says, “06880” commenter Diane Cady — who wrote

this is not just about motor vehicle accidents.  This is about dangerous driving — the step before the accident.  Speeding, talking on cell phone, disregarding stop signs and speed limits unfortunately signifies a certain disrespect for others, and a sense of entitlement.  It is, also, putting life at risk —

was right.

However, Dale adds, the “car stop” numbers he included were part of the department’s effort to stop “poor and dangerous driving behavior before those accidents occur.”

Second, Dale says, we should stop calling them “accidents,” and instead say “crashes.”

“Too many of these are the result of someone doing something dumb or dangerous, and being perfectly aware that that is the case.”  The result, Dale notes, is no “accident.”

An "accident" -- or a "crash." The road conditions sure don't look dangerous...

Finally, he notes, the number of “minor” accidents crashes — the fender-bender types — can be trended by looking at the number of reported incidents in private parking lots.  Most are reported only for insurance purposes, Dale says, and they’ve stayed fairly consistent:  around 300 a year, for the past 10 years.

“Serious” crashes are down by 52% over the past decade.

“Better cars?  More enforcement?” Dale asks.

“I don’t know.  But whatever the reason, I think everyone should be glad to see that kind of reduction.”

We are.

Still, we need to be careful — of the way we drive, and of the way others do.

As another cop – Sgt. Phil Esterhaus — always said:  “Hey, be careful out there.”

12 responses to “Accidents Continue To Happen

  1. Thanks, Dan, for these postings — they are a real service to the community. One aspect of this issue I haven’t seen addressed is pedestrian safety. I’d be interested in hearing from deputy chief Call whether pedestrian-related accidents are on the rise. I work downtown and often use the crosswalks on the Post Road and elsewhere — at what seems like ever greater risk. Today’s drivers are more distracted, more entitled, with many seeming to regard crosswalks as an inconvenience to ignore or even speed through less the person stepping off the curb get in their way. Put a couple cops in plaincothes and have them cross the Post Road for a couple hours to see how many drivers flout the rules…

    • Good point, there Scottie. Try crossing the designated cross-walk on North Avenue by Bedford Middle. State law but nobody will stop for you unless your pants are on fire.

  2. The Dude Abides

    As noted before in a previous comment, Connecticut DMV attributes lesser fatalities and/or “crashes” due to (1) snow ((yep, makes you drive slower));
    (2) Affluence (entitlement also means more expensive and safer cars; and
    (3) the state is growing old (apparently we old farts drive better than the young whipper-snappers). That being said, I see too many folks texting or cell calling while driving (which increases your chance of an accident by 40%). That needs to be addressed by enforcement.

  3. Dan, you should do a caption writing contest for some of your photos. That one (car vs. telephone pole) is a classic. My entry would be: “Hey, when did they put THAT there?”

  4. Not sure I share your humor considering that someone might have died in the car crash shown.

  5. Chip Stephens

    Good God I appreciate statistics but I challenge any official to stand for 30 minutes with a note pad, speed gun and sharp eye at any one of the following any day: Hillspoint and Post RD, Deadmans crossing POST RD at Trailer Park, Downtown on Post Rd, Bridge ST, Riverside Ave at Saugatuck School, Main St at Compo, Post Rd and Riverside. Then tell me it is NORMAL…. the speed, the running the stop light or sign, or the disregard of pedestrian crossing Westport has become dangerous and not traffic friendly (deadly)
    Do Not Sugar Coat It !!!

  6. Add any place on North Avenue between Cross Highway and Long Lots to that list. No way anybody is doing 25 MPH. Stop the madness!!!

  7. mary ruggiero

    I’d like to add my – YES – all those spots are hazardous- can’t tell you how many folks I see with cell phones glued to their ears while driving. A nice traffic camera at Hillspoint pointed along Post Road would do wonders – and pay for itself in about a month!

  8. As much as I love Shake Shack something must be done by the WPD regarding their “parking attendants” directing incoming traffic to park across the street when their own lot is full. There is NO CROSSWALK or TRAFFIC LIGHT anywhere on the Post Road nearby. Pedestrians, many of whom are adults with small children, are racing across an incredibly busy major road against two-way, high speed traffic which almost never comes to a complete stop due to the timing of the existing traffic lights.

    Please WPD, tell Danny Meyer’s staff that they are aiding and abetting a major crash about to happen momentarily.

  9. I agree with the comments above but there is a new hazard no one has mentioned – crossing Post Road to get to Shake Shack. No doubt someone will be hit there. They had a policeman crossing people the first few days but I don;t believe they do any longer. They have someone in the parking lot to tell you if the lot is full and to park across the street. Town needs to take notice of the situation if they haven’t already.

  10. A reader who wishes to remain anonymous asks:

    Are there accident statistics for different areas of Westport? I think the signage at the Daybreak Nursery/57/136/Weston Road interchange could be better.

    Last year, in my van, I had a “fender bender” with an SUV that started to cross over to 136/57 south after the Weston Road/57 intersection and then stopped suddenly. I inched forward when she moved. The policeman who helped us said “We have so many accidents around here.” (and now I notice them!)

    Short of adding traffic lights, I think putting a sign on the 136/57 North/Daybreak Nursery side that asks northbound cars to signal if they are going to cross to the left and prohibits more than two cars to wait at the stop sign after the crossover to turn left on Weston Road/57 would make the traffic flow safer there. Signaling would help as it is a guessing game for the person in the car heading south. When more than two cars are waiting to make the left turn onto Weston Road/57, if the oncoming/Daybreak Nursery side is clear (or a thoughtful someone IS signaling), it is hard to see cars coming around the bend with the right of way onto 136/57 South.