Monday, July 27, 2009

Texting Raises Crash Risk 23 Times

A review of recent scientific studies on the issue of distracted driving published in today's New York Times: See here for more, and here for NYT's "Driven to Distraction" article series.

About half of drivers 16 to 24 said they had texted while driving, compared with 22 percent of drivers 35 to 44.

“It’s convenient,” said Robert Smith, 22, a recent college graduate in Windham, Me., who says he regularly texts and drives even though he recognizes that it is a serious risk. He would rather text, he said, than take time on a phone call. “I put the phone on top of the steering wheel and text with both thumbs,” he said, adding that he often has exchanges of 10 messages or more. Sometimes, “I’ll look up and realize there’s a car sitting there and swerve around it.”

Friday, July 24, 2009

Seven Hospitalized After SUV Crash on Division Street

Seven people, including three children, were taken to the hospital Wednesday following a rear-end collision in New Haven, WTNH reported. The crash occurred at the intersection of Winchester Avenue and Division Street when the driver of an SUV collided with the car in front of it when the light turned green but the car didn't move, police said. Police said one child was drifting in and out of consciousness.

Reported in the Courant, the crash occurred in the Newhallville area, just a block from where a young child was killed in a still-unsolved hit-and-run collision last month.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Cell phone-distracted driver nearly hits officer on horseback; Horse swoops in for arrest

Reporting and photo from today's New Haven Independent:

When a reckless driver nearly ran into them on a downtown street, Officer Kim Roche and her trusty steed, Marshmallow, swept in to make an arrest.

“Lunching at Geronimo’s, I watched as Marshmallow and Officer Roche pulled over and ticketed someone for driving while talking on a cell phone. ‘Nearly hit us,’ said Officer Roche.”

Only in New Haven, folks.

For more on how the government has put on blinders on itself when it comes to the risk of cell phones and driver distraction, check out this roundup of coverage at Streetsblog.

Maureen Dowd has a great op-ed on the topic in yesterday's New York Times (excerpt below):

Studies show that drivers who talk on cellphones are four times more likely to be in a crash and drive just as erratically as people with an 0.08 percent blood-alcohol level. In one study cited by the highway safety agency, “drivers found it easier to drive drunk than to drive while using a phone, even when it was hands-free.”

Christopher Hill, a 21-year-old from Oklahoma who killed a woman last September when he ran a red light while on his cellphone and rammed into her S.U.V., tried to keep dialing and driving with a headset his mother gave him two months after the accident. He “found his mind wandering into his phone call so much that ‘I nearly missed a light,’ ” he told Richtel. Now he says he rarely uses the phone.

Hollywood offered a cautionary story with the depressing “Seven Pounds,” which begins with Will Smith spoiling his perfect life when he BlackBerrys while driving in his fancy car with his gorgeous new fiancée. He crashes into another car, killing six strangers and his girlfriend. The movie ends with a poisonous jellyfish in an icy bathtub. Don’t ask.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Four Pedestrians and Driver Hospitalized After Vehicle Runs Off Whalley Avenue

Report here from the NH Independent. The serious crash occurred in an area of Whalley Avenue about to be widened, and just a few blocks from where Gabrielle Lee was killed by a hit-and-run driver while crossing the street last June.

“He crosses over the shoulder, hops the curb, and there’s a group of folks from Chapel Haven on the sidewalk that are walking outbound, out toward Woodbridge. “He goes over the shoulder, pops the curb, and strikes at least four of these individuals.” The driver ended up in the parking lot of McDonald’s, where he slammed into two parked cars before his Cherokee stopped. Tchakirides said he didn’t know how fast the man was driving.

Is "non-life threatening" a meaningful term?

Friday, July 10, 2009

July 9: Future of Whitney Avenue Neighborhood-Wide Meeting

Original Post 7/8/09: For background on the issue, please see this previous post and open public letter.

From Justin Elicker of Friends of East Rock Park (and a steering committee member of CT Livable Streets): "Whitney Avenue is thankfully being paved as many of you have noticed. That said, there has been great concern among residents that virtually no additional pedestrian, bicycle or traffic-calming infrastructure has been included in the plan. As such, Roland Lemar, David Streever and I are hosting a meeting open to all concerned residents. The meeting will focus on creating a vision for the future of a Whitney Avenue that is safe and community-friendly. I urge you to attend this meeting to highlight the level of concern by residents. If you are unable to make it but wish to be heard, please respond [directly to Justin, or to newhavensafestreets at gmail . com and we will forward your email to him] and I will make sure to voice your concerns at the meeting." The meeting takes place Thursday, July 9, 7pm, at Wilbur Cross High School Cafeteria, 181 Mitchell Drive, New Haven.

Update 7/10/09: Coverage of the Meeting

New Vision Sketched For Whitney Avenue, New Haven Independent (photo courtesy of NHI), 7/10/09:

This father and daughter made it across Whitney Avenue with their lives intact. Will they be able to again once government finishes redoing the road? That was the question on the minds of 35 East Rock neighbors who showed up to a brainstorming session at Wilbur Cross High School Thursday night.

The meeting was called by East Rock Alderman Roland Lemar, safe streets activist David Streever and aldermanic candidate Justin Elicker to address what they see as shortcomings of a repaving project on East Rock’s main thoroughfare.

In the discussion in the school cafeteria Thursday night, a Willow Street mom recounted a routine struggle of taking her child on a walk. The crosswalk lights on Whitney are not long enough to make it across the street safely with a stroller, she said. Neighbor David Cameron agreed.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Pedestrian at Kensington Street Suffers Head Injury

Reporting from the New Haven Independent here on a 29-year old man struck by a vehicle in the city's Dwight neighborhood:

A pedestrian sustained a “severe head injury” when he was struck by a car this afternoon in the Dwight/Kensington neighborhood. The crash took place at 1:21 p.m. at Edgewood Avenue and Kensington Street, police said. Unlike at a recent crash in Newhallville, the car’s driver stayed at the scene. The pedestrian was taken to the hospital. He was conscious when he left, police said.

The New Haven Register has an eyewitness account, published here.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Battle of the Bridge, Round 1: ConnDOT Vetoes "Complete Bridge"

Reporting here from Design New Haven. For additional background, see our post here.