Calling the last two weeks — in which four pedestrians were struck and injured by cars while in crosswalks — “devastating” and “unprecedented,” South Orange Village President Sheena Collum announced that South Orange Police would be stepping up already aggressive traffic enforcement.
Collum made the announcement at the October 23 Board of Trustees meeting where she recounted that the accidents involving two 13-year-old girls on South Orange Avenue, a 70-year-old woman on Walton and another adult in West Montrose did not involve speeding — otherwise the victims most probably would not have survived. She noted that the pedestrians were all on sidewalks or in crosswalks when they were struck.
“We are looking into a meeting,” said Collum to discuss the rash of accidents.
But she also said that no time would be wasted in stepping up enforcement. The police department would immediately begin a “blitz” of “severe, aggressive enforcement.”
Collum appeared visibly upset and perplexed at the spate of accidents, noting that South Orange Police lead the county in “very aggressive enforcement” averaging 1,000 to 1,200 summonses per month in a town of 16,000. Collum called that number “jaw dropping.”
“They are doing their job,” said Collum.
After expressing that there must still be “lots of opportunity for education,” Collum sounded frustrated as she said, “People know the law; they are making bad choices.”
Collum noted that a road safety audit is coming soon for West Montrose and that capital improvements would be coming to the area of Lenox, Audley and Walton next spring.
From the South Orange Police Chief Kyle Kroll:
The South Orange Police Department (SOPD) in conjunction with the Village President, the Board of Trustees and on behalf of several concerned residents will be increasing its aggressive enforcement of traffic safety laws. Our goal will be to curb motor vehicle violations in particular those offenses for “Failing to Stop for a Pedestrian in a Crosswalk.”
The SOPD is pleased to have received this month the AAA Traffic Safety Award and also an additional $15,000 grant to roll out more traffic safety measures. While we are one of the leaders in the county and rank as one of the most aggressive departments in issuing traffic safety violations, we know more work must be done and we’re committed to delivering on that.
The Police Department, as well the Community at-large recognizes the hazards associated with the inattentive drivers that operate their vehicles on our roadways. Driving is an active skill that demands 100% of one’s focus both mentally and physically at all times. As such, all members of our police department have received explicit directions to enforce such violations and those violations that may be associated with same such as speeding, talking/texting on handheld while driving, illegal turns, failing to come to a complete stop at a stop sign etc.
The Police Department also recognizes that pedestrians must be aware of their surroundings and oncoming traffic and therefore should not be utilizing any electronic device that could distract them from completing a safe crossing. Pedestrians, as well drivers, have a shared responsibility in ensuring traffic safety within our community. We hope you will join us as partners as we continue to make our village safe for all users of our roads.