Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Central & Highland Currently Most Dangerous Intersection in Somerville's Ward 3

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. 


  1. Two years almost to the day I was in a car addicent in this intersection, sitting at a redlight on Highland ave, when a large size pick up truck slammed in to the back of my car.

  2. I live right by here. Would also be helpful to eliminate street parking close to the intersection, increase lighting, and move the T bus stops to a more central location on the block, rather than at the intersection, because those busses block views and hop in & out of traffic lanes like they own the road.

  3. I live a block from here and pedestrians to and from Dunkin' Donuts and the bus stop often ignore the Don't Walk sign, which is a bummer if you've committed to your turn and there's an oncoming vehicle.

  4. I wish the police had also said, "And pedestrians should cross the street when the signal says Walk." It says Don't Walk for a reason.

  5. Perhaps a solution would be prohibiting left turns. If drivers can't make left turns responsibly, they can't be allowed to make left turns.

    Most importantly, the pedestrian signals should be fixed so that they actually work. It's time for drivers to stop blaming the victims and for the city to start caring about people on foot.

  6. How about allowing each side to get a green light for a slightly longer amount of time (one at the start and one at the end) so that cars waiting to take a left could turn left?

  7. The pedestrian signals at this intersection (and all others in Somerville) need to be changed so that they always display WALK whenever the parallel green light is on.

  8. Thanks for all the input on this. I've collected all of your suggestions so that Traffic & Parking can review them.


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