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Monday, June 04, 2012

Police Issue Tickets: Red Means STOP, Blinking Red Means Proceed With Caution

     By now, motorists traveling on Central Ave. have noticed the HAWK pedestrian light at the cul-de-sac'd intersection of Central And Cambridge. If they are lucky enough, they might see the light "in action." or activated.
     The HAWK pedestrian light is activated by a pedestrian wanting to cross Central Ave. with the assistance of a traffic signal used to stop traffic. That is......if traffic does in fact stop when a solid red light appears.
     Last week, Westfield Traffic Safety Bureau Sergeant Jason McErlean issued a Cambridgw Rd. resident an $85 motor vehicle summons after the resident allegedly failed to stop when the HAWK light had been activated by the on-duty crossing guard at approximately 3:15 pm. The motorist allegedly made a right turn off of Clover St. and proceeded south on Central Ave making a left onto Rodger Ave making her way home to Cambridge Rd. The fact of the matter is that Mayor Skibitsky and some members of the Westfield Town Council remain steadfast in their quest to make the current location of the HAWK pedestrian crossing mid-block, the safest location for pedestrians to cross.
     If Mayor Skibitsky had followed the recommendations of traffic safety experts including his own consulting engineer Gordon Meth, Westfield's police chief and other traffic safety supervisors, as well as the recommendation of the HAWK light inventor, Dr. Richard Nasi, that the light be located at the intersection where it has been proven that a higher percentage of motorists yield to pedestrians, perhaps the Mayor wouldn't have to waste police manpower by having them "babysit" the light.
     At a time when Mayor Skibitsky and members of his town council have reduced public safety staffing levels by 20%, police officers have their hands full with more important calls for service. Maybe if Sgt. McErlean wasn't on "HAWK patrol" he could be assisting with the directing of traffic at one of several school crossing locations where crossing guards, who are not authorized to direct traffic, have inadvertently caused near miss accidents by directing motorists through STOP signs to facilitate the flow of traffic at congested school crossings.
     If only the HAWK light had been installed where the experts had recommended it be located, at the intersection of Clover & Central, one less motorist might not be "paying the piper."
     TFoTM does not believe that the ticket campaign is Mayor Skibitsky's way of raising revenue for the Town coffers.  TFoTM does recommend that Mayor Skibitsky go back to the drawing board and review his ill-fated political posturing with regards to the current location of the HAWK pedestrian light that has not improved the safety for pedestrians crossing Central Ave. and has made the uncontrolled intersection of Central Ave. and Clover St. more dangerous as proven by a significant spike in left turn accidents at the intersection.
     That would mean Mayor Skibitsky would have to admit he made a mistake........not least not while he is a politician.
     TFoTM is still waiting for Traffic Safety Committee Chair Councilwoman Neylan's suggestion that the public be educated on the HAWK light and what the blinking and steady lights mean.  When will the classes begin?   A pamphlet or brochure mailed out to residents with Mayor Skibitsky's annual letter touting his administration's accomplishments would suffice. We've held our breath long enough so here is a brief education: 
Flashing Yellow or Amber = Slow down, light is changing to Red
Red = Stop
Flashing Red = Proceed with caution after stopping at Red after pedestrians have crossed and crosswalk is clear.


  1. Wonder if the town got DOT approval for that stupid thing......

  2. There has never been anyone hit on Central Avenue before this light. Why was it ever put in?