Car accidents are many people’s biggest fears and the main reason that a handful of pedestrians choose to not operate a car during their lifetime. Some have haunting memories of an alarming experience in a car, while others would just rather have someone else be in charge of the moving vehicle. Whether there is an intoxicated operator, a car is in the blind spot when pulling into a street or the driver simply isn’t paying attention, the Association for Safe International Road Travel claims that 37,000 Americans are killed due to complications of car crashes every year. This can be broken down to a little over one hundred people around the country each day.
With vehicular deaths of the rise annually and more and more people getting their driver's license or learner’s permit every day, it is important for drivers in and around West Springfield to be aware of the dangerous areas in town where the most accidents occur.
Though accidents can happen anywhere and everywhere, there are certain areas in town that are home to frequent crashes. The Massachusetts Department of Transportation provides an online map that contains information regarding the top crash sights in Massachusetts. It highlights intersection clusters, bicycle accidents, pedestrian related strikes or and simple car collisions. However, whether a place is reported as a heavy accident location or not, it is crucial to always use caution while driving.
The intersections of Union Street and Park Ave, Riverdale Road and East Elm Street, and Park Street, Elm Street and Union Street have all had at least 20 accidents between 2013 and 2015. Combined, they make a total of 69 reported collisions within two years. The Riverdale Road and Ashley Avenue area have also conjured about 30 accidents. This does not include the unreported minor accidents that have occured in these locations. Though this may not seem like a number to be too concerned about, they are still dangerous and frequent collision zones.
A very high reported accident zone in town is around the North End Bridge Rotary. On the Route 5 and Elm Ave side, there have been 46 crashes within 2013-2015. This is double the amount of accidents that occured at the three locations mentioned above, making it a highly noted zone. Rotaries in any town cause some confusion within drivers, and this rotary specifically has a few different exits and merge zones. Cars entering the rotary must yield to the oncoming traffic and should always be cautious of their traveling speed.
Pedestrian related accidents are especially dangerous for areas of town where residents are more likely travel on foot. Though this does happen nearly everywhere in town due to our increasing amount of sidewalks and crosswalks, there are a few areas that massDOT highlighted in their document. The Elm Street, Central Street, and Park Street vicinity‒ the area surrounding the Post Office, Town Municipal Building, Public Library, Majestic Theatre and other popular public buildings‒ is a major highlighted area. Always use caution when proceeding on a crosswalk, even when you have the right of way.
However, the most accidents in town during 2013-2015 occured on Riverdale Road at its intersection with Morgan Road. This four-way intersection paired with a handful of different sets of traffic lights assists people traveling down Route 5 toward Holyoke or Springfield and also allows drivers to enter and leave the Riverdale Plaza. It is also located near a few entrances and exits to I-91 and other major highways, which creates a greater amount of traffic. The constant high amount of vehicles comes with a higher amount of accidents, and there were 58 reported accidents at this specific intersection within the two years of data collection.
The most important aspect of driving is safety. Ways to improve your safety as well as the safety of others is to limit easy distractions, such as your cell phone ringing when you get a text and changing the radio station when a commercial comes on. Always stay alert of your surroundings and remember to wear your seatbelt regardless of the situation. Be mindful of your speed at all times and use your turn signal at every change in direction, whether you are changing lanes or turning onto a side street. These simple actions may seem redundant, but remember that just one action can take, or save, someone else’s life.