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Two drivers cited after elderly pedestrians hit in back-to-back accidents in Newton Centre

Posted by Evan Allen  November 27, 2012 10:52 AM

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Two drivers were cited after separate accidents at the same Newton Centre intersection sent two elderly pedestrians to the hospital Monday.

A 26-year-old Newton woman struck a 94-year-old pedestrian in Newton Centre as he crossed outside the crosswalk near the corner of Centre and Pleasant streets at around 5:35 p.m on Monday, said police Lieutenant Bruce Apotheker.

The driver fled the scene, but came forward hours later, according to police. She was cited for leaving the scene after causing personal injury, said Apotheker, who did not release the woman's name.

The man she struck remained hospitalized at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center on Tuesday, Apotheker said. His injuries did not appear to be life-threatening.

Just over an hour later, in the same intersection, a 32-year-old Dedham woman struck a 90-year-old man crossing Centre and Pleasant streets at a crosswalk. The woman stopped and cooperated with police, said Apotheker, and was cited for failure to yield the right of way to a pedestrian in a cross walk.

The victim was taken to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center with a shoulder injury on Monday. There was no update available about his condition.

Since the beginning of the year, said Apotheker, there have been seven accidents in the area where the two men were hit, which includes the nearby intersections of Centre with Pelham Street and Langley Road.

The areas that, as of Nov. 25, had the highest number of accidents this year, according to Newton Police statistics provided by Apotheker, are Centre Ave and Centre Street, with ten; Centre Street and Commonwealth Ave, with ten; and 2014 Washington Street, with ten.

Most accidents, said Apotheker, are caused by driver inattentiveness.

“What happens is, somebody may be on a cell phone, there may be some sort of distraction. They’re not paying attention to where they’re going,” said Apotheker. “If people just paid attention, that would cut down on the number of accidents.”

Sean Roche, vice-chair of the Newton Bicycle/Pedestrian Task Force and a member of the city’s Transportation Advisory Group, said that the Newton Centre area has been an issue for a while.

“That area is perpetually on our radar,” he said. “Two 90-year-old guys, probably, their ability to navigate safely is limited, and we should not say to them ‘Well, you can’t walk.’ We should say, ‘The streets need to be safer for 90-year-old guys.’”

The best way, he said, for city officials to deal with the issue would be to focus on redesigning the streets to slow traffic and make drivers more aware of their surroundings and better able to stop quickly if the need arises.

One solution, he said, would be to add “bump outs” to some curbs, like the one that both elderly men were crossing from at Centre and Pleasant streets. A bump out extends the sidewalk into the street, giving pedestrians better visibility at crosswalks and forcing cars to slow down.

Other ideas, he said, include adding speed bumps in some areas, and investing in traffic lights that focus on regulating pedestrian traffic rather than regulating car traffic.

“The whole concept is called traffic calming,” said Roche. “The point of traffic calming is to put obstacles in the way of drivers, which, counter-intuitively, makes things safer for drivers and everybody else.”

A spokesman for the city could not immediately be reached.

Evan Allen can be reached at evan.allen@globe.com

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