It has been more than three years since my family moved to Montclair, and there’s one thing that still astonishes me daily: the way so many people drive with no regard for the safety of themselves or others.
Like the time a few weeks ago when I was nearly hit crossing Park Street at Bloomfield Avenue with my young daughter. The light was green and we were in the crosswalk when a car turned right on red—without stopping first—and nearly plowed into us. Stunned and shaken, I looked at the driver, with his teenaged son sitting next to him. The man saw me and, rather than apologize, flipped me off. His son shook his head, embarrassed.
I know we all have stories like this. I’ve heard (and told) hundreds of them.
The recent spate of pedestrian accidents and deaths in our area makes me shudder. So I decided to try and do something about it. At first, I thought about buying one of those cute green “Kid Alert” turtles to put in the yard as a friendly reminder to drivers. But my daughter nixed that idea as “too babyish.” My husband wanted to post a sign listing the legal speed limit on our street, so I researched some more and found this website.
Tom Everson, the founder of the nonprofit “Keep Kids Alive, Drive 25” says he started the company with the hope of slowing people down to make the streets safer for everyone. “We wanted to help change the way people drive, for them to begin taking personal responsibility for their driving behavior–starting in their own neighborhoods,” he says.
The sign arrived, and I conducted my own, completely unscientific experiment. Before my husband anchored the post in our yard, I spent a half hour observing cars pass our house during the afternoon rush hour, and placed them in three categories: 1. Driving near the speed limit. 2. Obviously going over the speed limit, but not quite flying. 3. Traveling at speeds more suited to a highway rather than a residential neighborhood.
I repeated the experiment at the same time during rush hour after the sign went up. The results? More than twice as many drivers drove near the speed limit, while the number of cars attempting to break the sound barrier plummeted.
Was my experiment a fluke? Will motorists soon grow accustomed to the reminder and resume their high speeds? Will someone steal my sign? Maybe. But for now, I’m glad it’s there.
Do you have suggestions on how to slow traffic, or otherwise make our roadways safer? Please let us know.