Route 1 is most dangerous for walkers, again
For eight years, Route 1 has been named the most dangerous road in Connecticut by the Tri-State Transportation Campaign.
In 2016, more than 70 pedestrian-involved crashes occurred along the 120-mile stretch of the road.
The Connecticut Transportation Safety Research Center, which runs the crash data repository at the University of Connecticut, shows that of the 72 crashes in 2016, five were fatal — three more than 2015.
The crash data repository collects information from local and state law enforcement agencies to provide a summary of statistics to be viewed by police departments and interested parties, according to Eric Jackson, director of CTSRC.
With the number of deaths totalling more than 50 in 2016, the state reached the highest number of pedestrian fatalities related to motor vehicle accidents since 1995, Jackson said.
The Tri-State Transportation Campaign — a nonprofit dedicated to reducing car dependency in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut — released its Most Dangerous Roads for Walking annual report in April. It showed Route 1, also call the Boston Post Road, was the state’s most deadly road for walking.
From 2012 to 2014, the organization reported that 10 pedestrians were killed on the road.
“For eight consecutive analyses, Route 1 has held the top spot as Connecticut’s most deadly road for pedestrians,” Veronica Vanterpool, executive director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, said in an April release.
“While our annual analysis has noted variability in the most dangerous roads in the other states from year-to-year, without long-overdue safety improvements, it’s unlikely Route 1 can shed this label,” Vanterpool said.
“Clearly, not enough is being done to transform this arterial (road) into a corridor that is safe for all users.”
Last summer, to call attention to the safety risks Route 1 poses, Weston resident Ray Rauth, 75, spent 12 days walking all 117 miles of the road. Rauth said he sought to use his experience as a platform to educate communities on pedestrians’ safety needs.
“Route 1 is one of the most dangerous roads in Connecticut and one of the eight most dangerous roads in the Tri-State area,” said Rauth, who has walked more than 30,000 miles in Connecticut.
‘DEADLY BY DESIGN’
One of the biggest safety hazards, especially in urban areas, is the lack of continuity in sidewalks, Rauth said.
“Town after town after town, you have a strip of sidewalk and then it just stops and you are forced onto the pavement in very awkward places,” Rauth said.
But it’s not just the shortage of sidewalks that can force pedestrians out onto the road, Rauth said lack of snow removal will also put walkers out onto the pavement.
Last year, 15 of the 1,402 reported pedestrian-involved crashes occurred during snowy conditions, according to data collected by the crash data repository. A majority of last year’s crashes — 1,180 — happened during clear conditions.
“On a lot of the streets that I walk on, a lot of the motorists are just completely unaware that they might see a pedestrian. They don’t expect to see it. If we had more pedestrians walking these roads, the motorists would be more attuned to it,” Rauth said.
To ensure motorists are aware of pedestrians, Rauth said people should only cross at a crosswalk.
However the design of certain state roads prevent pedestrians from always using crosswalks, Rauth said.
On Route 1 in Milford, Rauth said a pedestrian can walk a mile before coming to a crosswalk.
“It just goes back to deadly by design and lack of consideration for pedestrian and cyclists needs,” Rauth said.
Before heading out on the road, Rauth said pedestrians and bicyclists should remain absolutely focused and be aware of their surroundings.
“You have to watch the traffic and be proactive on your part,” Rauth said. “Look for the cars, watch for the cars. Also watch the passenger side rear view mirror because that is the closest point to you and you want to make sure it deviates when it sees you.”
The town of Orange reported one pedestrian fatality from a motor vehicle crash in 2016. It was Oct. 14 was on the Boston Post Road, just east of Smith Farm Road. It is still under investigation, according to Assistant Police Chief Anthony Cuozzo.
Years ago, Cuozzo said there was a push in Orange to add sidewalks along the Post Road, but sidewalks are costly for the town to maintain.
The department regularly encourages Orange residents always to use crosswalks and wear bright clothing if walking at night, especially on the Post Road, Cuozzo said.
In addition, he said pedestrians should be mindful that drivers may not always see them due to other distractions.
“On a statewide level, we have certainly seen an increase in pedestrian-related accidents,” Cuozzo said. “There’s no doubt that in today’s day and age, drivers are more distracted.”
While distracted driving is a top concern for the department, there are also other factors that make an impact on pedestrian safety, including access to sidewalks and walkers choosing to cross busy roads at places other than crosswalks, Cuozzo said.