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Pedestrian Safety Options Eyed for Garretson Road

Police consider whether steps should be taken after a teen was hit by a car Thursday.

The police department will be reviewing its options for a new traffic study to determine if any action can and should be taken following Thursday's incident in which a 14-year-old was hit by a teen driver as she crossed Garretson Road to the high school.

The girl was in the crosswalk walking from the Bridgewater YMCA to the Bridgewater-Raritan High School when she was hit by an oncoming car. She suffered non life-threatening injuries in the incident.

Parents have said they believe there should be an officer stationed at the crosswalks to try to prevent this from happening again.

Bridgewater Township Police Chief Richard Borden said there have been many traffic studies, township engineering studies and independent engineering studies over the past 10 years concerning the area of Garretson Road near the high school.

The most recent study, Borden said, led to the construction of crosswalks and flashing lights at two of those crosswalks.

But they also all determined that an officer or crossing guard was not needed.

"All of the studies conducted, due to the configuration of where students cross, which is at the crosswalks and in-between, and the median speed of the roadway, did not warrant a crossing guard," Borden said.

The driver involved in Thursday's incident, Borden said, was issued a summons, but if someone is inattentive while driving, nothing else will matter.

"If a driver is being inattentive to what he or she is doing or is distracted, a crossing guard or police officer's presence is meaningless," he said. "We have experienced distracted and/or inattentive drivers proceeding through red traffic lights and work areas with police officers present, and causing major accidents."

And, Borden said, he does not recall any other accidents in that area involving a student during school hours.

"We believe there may have been a minor accident at Voorhees Road and Garretson Road involving a pedestrian several years ago, but it was extremely minor," he said. "We do not believe it occurred during school hours."

But, Borden said, it will be worth looking into the situation again, particularly because students are now allowed to park in the YMCA parking lot.

Borden said that, beginning this week, the Traffic Safety Bureau will be reviewing study options to determine the most viable action to take concerning that stretch of roadway.

"We will be reviewing aspects of the roadway in the very near future," he said.

MLB October 01, 2012 at 10:19 AM
I saw a student bumped by a car in the cross walk last year during morning drop-off. The driver made a left out of the school's inside circular driveway and onto Garretson across her path. Other students were also crossing at the time. She seemed unharmed (I checked on her) and I doubt she reported it. That car stopped and she screamed obscenities at him. I doubt that incident was unique. It is dangerous crossing those streets. A traffic light or police officer could have made that situation much safer.
MWalker October 03, 2012 at 03:25 PM
Previous traffic studies revealed that over 1000 cars and more than 40 buses passed the high school in the morning, and that the majority of drivers exceeded the posted 25 mph limit between 6:45 and 7:30. There have been fender benders and unreported pedestrian accidents during school hours, as well as numerous near misses, many of which were recorded on camera. The independent engineering study did conclude that a crossing guard could be posted to manually disrupt traffic and facilitate pedestrian crossing of Garretson Road. It also noted that drivers (school bus drivers, in particular) were routinely stopping traffic to create courtesy gaps for fellow motorists. A number of recommendations were made by the PD traffic safety unit based on the engineering study. Most were related to restriping of the roadway and placement of crosswalks. However, it was suggested that enforcement details and monitoring of the high school area be continued. It implies that police presence is not "meaningless". In fact, police presence and enforcement seem to be effective tools for changing driver behavior in other towns, such as North Branch and Somerville.
BwtrMom October 14, 2012 at 01:20 PM
Since the reason that the students are now crossing Garretson is because they are parking at the YMCA, and they are charging an extremely inflated price to do so, then the cost of improving that crossing area should be subsidized by the Y.

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