Residents in one South Orange neighborhood have been expressing concern and fears about traffic safety in their area, noting that cars routinely speed through stop signs, posing a serious danger for pedestrians — especially children walking to and from nearby South Mountain Elementary School, according to a CBS2 News report.
According to residents interviewed in the report, one child was nearly struck by a car while walking to school, and another neighbor’s dog was hit several years ago, leading him to lose a leg.
CBS2 set up cameras at the intersection of Mayhew Drive and Overhill Road — a frequent shortcut for drivers trying to avoid South Orange Avenue traffic lights — and witnessed many cars speeding through the streets and ignoring stop signs.
Residents have been asking township officials for such safety measures as a four-way stop, flashing stop signs, or even a traffic circle, according to the report. Said one, “This neighborhood is at the point where we are concerned that it will take an injury or a life before the town pays us the regard we think is needed.”
The Village Green reached out to South Orange Police Chief Kyle Kroll to ask what steps the town has taken and what is planned for the future to improve safety concerns in the area.
Kroll confirmed there had been a recent increase in complaints from residents in the area, and it was a topic of discussion at a neighborhood meeting conducted by the SOPD’s Community Relations Sergeant in tandem with the Board of Trustee’s Public Safety Committee.
As a response, the SOPD initiated a 3-phase process to address the problem:
- Notifications, including warning flyers distributed to drivers
- Enforcement, such as ticketing drivers who speed or ignore stop signs
- Site surveys to examine potential physical measures and mechanisms that would assist in traffic calming and further the goal of providing safer streets.
“We are currently in the enforcement phase after four days of notifications where officers were assigned on foot in those intersections and presented motorists with warning notices,” Kroll said on Friday. “Enforcement has been increased and will continue as such with a specific eye on speeding, failing to yield to pedestrians and failing to come to a complete stop at a stop sign.”
The measures are part of an overall initiative South Orange has taken to improve vehicular and pedestrian safety townwide. Indeed, Kroll said Essex County and AAA of NJ speak highly of the measures the Village has taken and continues to take regarding vehicular and pedestrian safety.
“That praise is even more encouraging when we see that according to recent data, New Jersey has seen an increase in vehicle related fatalities above and beyond that of the national rate which increased by 7% in 2015,” he said.