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Summit Police Chief Discusses 'Perception vs. Reality' Regarding Pedestrian Safety

Distracted-driving type summonses such as failure to stop for pedestrian and cell phone use have almost doubled in the last two years, Chief Weck states.

Summit Police Chief Robert Weck has issued the following statement regarding pedestrian safety: 

"With the recent accident in which a crossing guard was struck by a motor vehicle as she walked back to the curb and the comments/thoughts it has generated about pedestrian safety, I wanted to communicate with the public about “perception vs. reality” as well as share what the Summit Police have been doing to address it.

Let me start off with saying that even one pedestrian struck by a motor vehicle is one too many, and we will continue to do what we’ve been doing -- and that is, to utilize the three E’s of traffic safety: Education, Engineering and Enforcement to ensure motorists and pedestrians alike are safe when crossing, walking near or driving on our roadways.

For a variety of reasons, the public may not be aware of the actual motor vehicle accident statistics and/or safety initiatives being conducted by the police department and other city departments. I have provided those statistics on pedestrian and motor vehicle accidents below to ensure that the correct information as well as a consistent message from the City is received.

While I understand the public concerns against any pedestrian accident, this is where the perception vs. reality clarification begins. Again, I will preface these statistics with the comment that while the Summit Police Department, City Hall and the public would prefer not to experience any accidents (of any type) each year, we know that is probably unrealistic, and we will continue to work towards decreasing the number of accidents each year.

With that said, here are the statistics that demonstrate the dedicated and professional work the members of the Summit Police Department and other city departments (Engineering) have been doing to work towards that goal:

Pedestrian Accidents:

2011: 21

2012: 18

2013: 9

It is important to note that while they are officially labeled as pedestrian accidents, they may not be consistent with the public’s perception of a pedestrian accident (“car running over an individual” etc). Of the nine (9) pedestrian accidents that occurred in 2013, here is the actual breakdown:

Pedestrian’s Fault:  2

Parking Lot: 1 - driver hit gas pedal instead of brake & struck pedestrian in the leg

Driver’s Fault: 4  - driver inattention, blind spots, sun glare etc.

Questionable: 2 - different opinions if vehicle actually stuck pedestrian (“he said/she said” scenario with no witnesses)

As these statistics show, pedestrian accidents are not of epidemic proportion. Traffic issues have always been a high priority concern for our police department as well as for the city. We have made great strides in our efforts to improve pedestrian safety, and we will continue to do so each and every year.

Pedestrian Fatalities:

2010: 2

2011: 2

2012: 0

2013: 0

Summonses Issued for Moving Violations:

2011: 2,673

2012: 3,143

2013: 3,962

Important to note that distracted-driving type summonses--failure to stop for pedestrian, cell phone use, etc.--have almost doubled in the last two years. So again, the perception vs. reality factors in. The department has also logged hundreds of hours conducting RADAR throughout Summit, which resulted in numerous summonses being issued for a variety of traffic violations.

The police department continues to work hand-in-hand with the city’s engineering department; and just this past year, several projects have been completed, such as turn restrictions, lane designation paintings, median installations and highly visible crosswalk painting--all to help traffic issues. We will continue to discuss and research new safety measures and devices, such as in-ground lighted crosswalks and pedestrian warning signals for various intersections in the coming year.

I hope the information contained in this article helps to clarify the perception vs. reality when it comes to pedestrian safety in Summit as well as what the city is doing to ensure that everyone who visits or makes their home in Summit has a safe and enjoyable experience.

The city and police department will continue to do all it can to address the traffic issues, both perceived and real, but if pedestrians and motorists alike don’t do their part in being aware of their surroundings and taking their time while traveling through Summit, we won’t reach our goal of zero pedestrian accidents. So I ask you, won’t you please be part of the solution and not the problem.

Thank you in advance for all your assistance.

Robert Weck
Chief of Police
Summit Police Department 

MsSummit January 24, 2014 at 03:43 PM
I agree completely with the above. The truth is that pedestrians have become more vigilant. The area where you cross to get to and from the station from the parking garage (summit ave, by union) is dangerous, with many cars not yielding to pedestrians...I know from experience...sometimes 4 or more cars go thru before someone stops. It is only by the grace of god that no child has been killed crossing at Morris (by the middle school). That, and the diligence of the school crossing guard who recently got hit, but can recount probably daily near misses and cars just rolling through that crosswalk. It's been a problem for years, and I believe this is not the first time a crossing guard has been hit or clipped.
Cathy January 25, 2014 at 08:19 AM
Thank you to the Summit PD==you can't be everywhere 24/7. But your statistics do not show the incredible number of near-misses that occur every day. I live right near the MS and I can attest that the light at Morris and Summit is an accident waiting to happen--and I've seen a few since I've lived here. Please--can someone in the PD listen? I know that MoAve is a county road, but we as a community need to take some responsibility. The traffic heading from town to turn LEFT onto Morris from Summit Ave does not have an arrow, which means these people are trying to beat the light, and the traffic coming towards them. If anyone attempts to cross Morris Ave at this time, they are targets, especially in rush hour traffic. This IS NOT perception--it is a miracle no one has been killed yet. In fact, getting out of my driveway is an exercise in futility b/c other drivers seem upset that I happen to live in such a location. NOT PERCEPTION. Fact. I escaped within INCHES when crossing in broad daylight. Does the PD need personal testimonies about this? PUT OUT A SURVEY!!! THEN you will get the full picture. NO matter how many times I go on and on about this nothing is ever done. At rush hour the cars speed through the light as well. No PD in sight. Pedestrians have to be very creative to avoid being hit. How about our PD--can you be creative in evaluating this problem? We all would appreciate this!!
Cathy January 25, 2014 at 08:22 AM
How about a posted speed reduction on Morris Ave from Maple and Morris to Mountain and Morris? Even if this is a county road, the PD still monitors the road and gives tickets on the road.
rh January 25, 2014 at 09:36 AM
The issue in the LCJSMS parking lot and Oakland Place has not been addressed by the school or the police. Yet the HS has sent emails about not letting older kids cross Kent Place! Parents let children out in the lot, they let their kids out on the other side of Oakland Place to run across not at the crosswalk (and I have not seen a crossing guard at Oakland Place) in the morning. There was a near miss in the LCJSMS lot about a month ago, where the people pulling around to the right did not see that someone in the main line let their kid out, and the kid was running across when there was a break in the cars. The car in the other line was beeping at me because I had stopped to let the child through. We should first focus on the safety of our children and then the crossing guards, and then the people using the train station. The schools should have assessments done during a typical week, especially LCJSMS, to see where problem areas are. At L-H, they had a cop yelling at people stopping more than 5 feet from a fire hydrant to move "or else". I have NEVER seen a cop near LCJSMS trying to get people to move or not drop their kids off in a dangerous place. They have a cop by the office building off River Road, for the safety of CARS, and same thing at Merck, for the safety of CARS. Can't we figure out how to help our kids be safer, and the pedestrians who moved to Summit in order to be near our train station?
Matthew Minthorn January 27, 2014 at 02:29 AM
We need some enforcement.

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