Route 24, a busy roadway which sees more than 100,000 cars per day, has raised a great deal of concern recently due to a string of serious or fatal accidents. As a result, State police outlined a plan Friday to increase patrols on the roadway. The hope was that an increased police presence will improve driver safety and decrease the likelihood of future accidents.
Recent statistics show that the rate of car accidents on Route 24 has not only increased in the past year but also spiked noticeably in the last month alone. Since January 2011, there were 16 accidents requiring a construction team and 11 involving fatalities. In the last month, there were two fatal accidents resulting in three deaths-one of which was a 12-year-old girl. These figures prompted officials and the public to take notice.
A motorist who travels on Route 24 and was interviewed by a reporter from WHDH, said, “I’m not surprised, I’m really not. I see the way people drive on this highway. It’s scary, it’s really scary.” Col. Timothy Alben of the State police also indicated that the roadway was notorious for dangerous driving, especially at night. “It’s a whole different world out here after midnight,” he said.
State police said Friday that they would increase patrols on weekends during the hours of 8 p.m. and 4 a.m., according to Col. Alben. The patrols would be present not only on Route 24 but also Interstate 495. Reportedly, there would be 11 extra patrols each night. This increase in police presence was predicted to cost about $125,000 and will remain until the end of the summer.
Most recently, however, in the time since the initiative was announced last week, there has been another accident involving a fatality on Route 24. Early yesterday morning, there was a fatal crash on the northbound side of the roadway in which a motorist struck a pedestrian who was crossing on foot. Adam T. Trudeau, a 29-year-old Needham man, was killed some time after 1:15 a.m. by a driver who, according to police, thought he had hit a deer. He was charged with leaving the scene of an accident after causing personal injury resulting in death.
Shane Wilson, 20, of Norton, contacted Massachusetts State Police and identified himself as the driver, claiming that he was aware he had struck something and initially stopped but then left the scene before speaking with police. He reportedly called police after seeing news reports about the fatality. The accident is still under investigation, but State Police said that they will continue to be on the lookout for speeders, drunk drivers, wrong-way drivers and distracted drivers.
It is encouraging that public officials are taking notice of the alarming increase in traffic accidents and fatalities on this stretch of Massachusetts roadway. This highway is heavily-traveled in the summertime as residents from greater Boston head to the Cape and Islands. With the near-perfect weekend weather we have had this summer, it make sense that the roadways are more populated than usual. With the increased police presence and heightened public awareness, it is hoped that drivers will use greater caution-not only on Rt. 24 but all Massachusetts roadways.
Finally, on a separate but related note, I personally have noticed a significant increase of drivers operating their cars while using their smartphones. One has to wonder how much impact inattentive drivers are having on this noticeable increase in Massachusetts highway accidents. Next week, we will be blogging on how smartphones have become one of the biggest-if not the biggest-driving hazards and what lawmakers are doing to curb the problem.