New Canaan Police say they’re ramping up enforcement at areas where they see the highest incidence of motor vehicle accidents in town.
Deputy Chief John DiFederico said Wednesday night that after studying accident history in New Canaan with the department’s lead accident investigator, authorities identified one cluster of intersections downtown and another series along the Route 123 corridor.
In downtown New Canaan, motor vehicle accidents occur most frequently at Elm and Park Streets, South Avenue and Cherry Street, and Cherry and Main Streets, according to DiFederico. The other high-accident areas are along Route 123 at Old Norwalk Road, Lakeview Avenue/Little Brook Road and East Avenue/Silvermine Avenue, he said.
The downtown crashes involved violations such as unsafe backing on Elm Street, “which would be people backing out of spaces, and then traffic control devices, going through red lights or stop signs, and then lane violations,” DiFederico said at a regular meeting of the Police Commission.
Those along 123 “were predominantly following too closely, that is the typical charge when someone is rear-ended,” he said.
“You rear-end another car, you were following too close. So given that information what we will do is develop an enforcement plan focusing on those two general areas on those types of violations. The ones on 123, the following too close, I want to look at that a little bit deeper and see if those are related to distracted driving. I suspect that they could be. People are not paying attention to the road. They are looking at a cellphone, talking on a cellphone, texting. And then a car stopped at a traffic light or making a turn or something. So over the course next of the next several months we are going to be focused on enforcement and see if we can reduce these numbers.”
Most of the accidents involved damage to property rather than injuries to people, especially those where vehicles are traveling at low speeds downtown, he added, “but still we would like to reduce them.”
Overall, motor vehicle violations cited by police are down year-to-date to 2,237 from 3,178 at the same time in 2017, Police Chief Leon Krolikowski said.
“We should see an increase as we continue to focus enforcement on those top accident locations,” he said.
Asked by Commission Chairman Sperry DeCew what is the reason for the “significant drop” year-over-year, Krolikowski said: “Just some staffing issues and refocusing our efforts of patrol and getting people directed in the right direction.”
DeCew asked what type of enforcement would reduce crashes at an intersection such as Cherry and Main.
DiFederico said that “those would be a little more difficult.”
“Those still could be attributed to inattentive drivers, not paying attention to traffic controls, changing red lights and they are looking at their cellphones and not paying attention to how traffic is flowing,” he said. “So we will have to focus on that and see driving behaviors downtown and see if we can correct some of that.”
The deputy chief said he would report back to the Commission in six months after targeted enforcement at the high-incidence locations.