The number of traffic accidents in Norwalk increased last year, with two intersections tying for the dubious label of “most dangerous.”
The Norwalk Police Department’s annual report identified the League Street-Milan Avenue intersection and the Monroe Street-Whittlesey Avenue intersection as the most dangerous, with each location seeing seven traffic accidents in 2018. Another five intersections had five crashes apiece.
In 2018, Norwalk experienced 353 accidents — 27 more than the previous year.
Of those 353 accidents, 48 resulted in injuries to 51 people.
“Most of our traffic crashes come down to one thing — a lack of attention on one of the drivers involved,” Police Chief Mike Conney said. Specifically, Conney noted a lack of attention to “road conditions and speed,” as well as the vehicles in front of motorists. “Running traffic lights” was another problem.
There were 24 accidents that involved pedestrians, including one fatality — Chanh Myers, 67, of Norwalk.
In late March, Myers, a well-known woman in the business community, was walking across West Main Street from where she worked at Home Savings Bank when she was hit by a pickup truck turning onto Main Street from Church Street. Myers later died at Cleveland MetroHealth Medical Center.
The intersection at Main and Church streets was not listed among the most dangerous areas in the NPD’s annual report, which was based on the number of accidents at each location.
There were no fatal crashes in Norwalk in 2017.
Conney said he doesn’t feel like Norwalk’s “most dangerous intersections” present any particular hazards in themselves.
“It’s not that the intersections are poorly designed or the traffic signals don't work. I think it just comes down to people not paying enough attention,” he said.
“Driving is a skill that after awhile we take for granted,” Conney said. “But it requires our full attention honestly. ... It's a danger not to be fully focused on your driving and your surroundings.”
The chief said drivers typically cite not being focused or missing something in their surroundings as the main contributors to an accident. He said drivers will often say, “I let my attention else where,” or “I didn't see the light or the stop sign or the other car.”
The NPD’s annual report listed 21 intersections that had four or more accidents throughout 2018. Conney said this gives the department “a place to focus” so that they can “help people pay better attention.”
“People generally want to follow the law,” he said. “For the most part, people want to abide by the law, but they allow things to distract them. That's why they call them accidents.”
COMING SATURDAY: Part 6 in this series will focus on changes in the department that took place during 2018 and its vision for 2019.
This week, the Reflector is publishing a six-part series about the 2018 Norwalk Police Department annual report.
Here is the focus of each part:
Monday - Crime overview
Tuesday - Sex offenses
Wednesday - Drug crimes
Thursday - Traffic law enforcement
TODAY - Most dangerous intersections
Saturday - Department updates and vision
MOST DANGEROUS INTERSECTIONS IN NORWALK
Here are the numbers associated with the intersections seeing the highest number of crashes in Norwalk during the last two years.
Rank Location Accidents
1. League Street / Milan Avenue — 7
Monroe Street / Whittlesey Avenue — 7
3. Benedict Avenue / Elm Street — 5
Cline Street / Gallup Avenue — 5
League Street/ Whittlesey Avenue — 5
South Ohio 61 / West Main Street — 5
Main Street / Pleasant Street — 5
8. Benedict Avenue / Executive Drive — 4
Benedict Avenue / Water Street — 4
Cleveland Road / Old State Road — 4
Cline Street / League Street — 4
Main Street / Linwood Avenue — 4
Mina Street / Prospect Street — 4
Main Street / Schauss Avenue — 4
Gallup Avenue / Milan Avenue — 4
Gallup Avenue / Republic Street — 4
Milan Avenue / Republic Street — 4
Plank Road / Westwind Drive — 4
Old State Road / Townsend Avenue — 4
Westwind Drive / Whittlesey Avenue — 4
Whittlesey Avenue / Washington Street — 4
TOP 10 CAUSES OF CRASHES IN NORWALK
Here are the numbers associated with the top 10 causes of accidents in Norwalk during the last two years.
Category 2017 2018
1. Following too closely — 78
2. Failure to control — 66
3. Failure to yield — 28
4. Improper backing — 26
5. Stop sign — 26
6. Hit skip — 25
7. Operating a vehicle impaired (OVI) — 19
8. Red light — 14
9. Animal / no citation — 11
10. Continuous lanes — 4
SOURCE: Norwalk Police Department
“It's a danger not to be fully focused on your driving and your surroundings.”
— Norwalk Police Chief Mike Conney