Among other topics at last night's Ward 3 ResiStat Community Meeting, data was shared on the City's most dangerous intersections. In Ward 3, Somerville Police have been investigating the cause behind a recent uptick in crashes at the intersection of Central St. and Highland Ave.--including four incidents in which pedestrians were struck.
After studying the intersection, police identified two main contributing factors. With heavy traffic at the intersection, drivers making left turns appear to be very focused on finding gaps in oncoming traffic. In some cases, drivers making left turns have thus failed to notice pedestrians in the crosswalks. Another issue is the high number of drivers running red lights at the intersection. A recent ticketing operation at the intersection found that numerous drivers run the red lights at the intersection just after they change from yellow.
Police have been out in force ticketing to change behavior at the intersection. Somerville Police data shows a high correlation between increased enforcement and decreased accidents citywide. Additional signage will also be considered, but the narrow intersection is not suited for the usual options for engineering fixes, such as establishing left-turn lanes.
Meanwhile, police say education is also important. Residents need to be aware that a few seconds of careless driving or a traffic violation can end with serious consequences. They urge residents to stop, rather than drive through, the tail end of a yellow light. Before entering the intersection just after the light turns green, drivers should also check first for drivers running the light (over time, increased enforcement aims to reduce the need for this precaution). And finally, drivers making left turns should be sure to carefully scan the crosswalks for pedestrians.