AVON — Chief Jeffrey Bukunt and the Avon Police Department would like to remind all Avon residents and those traveling through the community to always obey posted speed limits and to follow the rules of the road at all times.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released a report last week that showed an alarming increase in the number of motor vehicle fatalities across the country. According to the report, an estimated 20,160 people died in motor vehicle crashes in the first half of 2021, up 18.4% over 2020. The figure represents the largest number of projected fatalities in that time period since 2006.
One of the major reasons for these fatalities as outlined in the report was speeding. This issue, referred to as a crisis in the report, is not only a serious problem on a national level, but locally as well.
“Avon, as is the case nationally, continues to see speeding vehicles as a significant cause for concern,” Chief Bukunt said. “We want to highlight many important safety tips for those driving on our roadways and remind people to always obey speed limits. This is for your safety, the safety of other drivers on the road, and the safety of pedestrians of all ages who may be walking on sidewalks or using crosswalks throughout the community.”
Speeding contributes to motor vehicle crashes in a number of ways. It reduces the driver’s ability to take turns or avoid obstacles/pedestrians in the roadway, it makes it more difficult to come to a complete stop in a variety of situations, it increases the likelihood a vehicle will skid or spin out of control during adverse weather conditions, it can contribute to road rage incidents, and it makes it more difficult for other drivers to react as the vehicle approaches.
“At the end of the day it simply isn’t worth it to drive recklessly and speed behind the wheel,” Chief Bukunt said. “We all understand that our lives are hectic and we want to get to where we’re going as quickly as possible, but it is never worth putting your life at risk or the lives of others.”
What is Being Done in Avon
The 2020 Avon Police Quality of Service Survey revealed that traffic enforcement was the number one area of importance to Avon citizens. A number of advancements have been made to improve enforcement and give officers the tools necessary to do their job as effectively as possible. This includes conducting thousands of hours of targeted traffic enforcement, an increase in focused patrols of student crosswalk activity, and outfitting all Avon Police cruisers with new state-of-the-art forward and rear facing radar units.
Additionally, the Police Department recently purchased a Radar-Speed Trailer, equipped with a Data Capture System to allow officers to analyze patterns and identify the most problematic areas or hot spots for enforcement strategies. The department is able to capture vehicle speed, time of day, direction, length and count of approaching and departing traffic. The data is presented in interactive graphs that allow for an efficient deployment of resources for targeted enforcement and to better respond to citizen complaints, identify needs for traffic controls and traffic planning/projects.
Lastly, the Town of Avon — with strong support from the Avon Board of Selectmen and in collaboration with the Avon Public Works Director — recently petitioned MassDOT District 5 with concerns over speeding, speed zones and sidewalk issues along Route 28. This successfully resulted in MassDOT’s commitment to a speed study by the District Traffic Section, which will be used to review and mitigate concerns about speeding vehicles and sidewalk issues along Route 28, with a primary goal of reducing the speed limit on Route 28 north of Memorial Drive.
“It’s not enough to simply identify speeding as a serious issue. We need to take concrete steps to address the issue, and the Police Department, along with other departments in Town, have taken steps to do just that,” Chief Bukunt said. “We are thankful for the support we have received from the Town, as well as the many residents who come to us with speeding-related concerns. We assure you that we take these concerns seriously and will continue to work together to seek solutions for the sake of the entire Avon community.”
Other Important Safety Tips
Avon Police would like to share these additional safety tips, courtesy the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Safety Council:
Motor Vehicle Safety
- Always wear your seat belt — and wear it correctly. It should go over your shoulder and across your lap.
- Never drink and drive. If you see someone at a party or celebration who plans on driving while impaired, take their keys away and make arrangements for them to get home safely through a designated driver or ride-share program.
- Never eat, drink or use a cell phone while driving.
- Always wear a helmet, and look for the DOT sticker (which guarantees the helmet meets safety standards required by law). Never buy a used helmet.
- Choose a bike that fits you; “supersport bikes” have driver death rates about four times that of cruisers or standard bikes, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
- Invest in anti-lock brakes.
- New riders should take a motorcycle safety course, and experienced riders should take refresher courses after being off their bikes for a while.
- Never drink and ride.
- Drive defensively, especially at intersections, where half of all collisions occur.
- Assume you are invisible to other motorists and position yourself to be seen.
- Wear bright and/or reflective clothing that is durable and boots that cover the ankles.
- Be predictable. Follow the rules of the road and obey signs and signals.
- Walk on sidewalks whenever they are available.
- If there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic and as far from traffic as possible.
- Keep alert at all times; don’t be distracted by electronic devices that take your eyes (and ears) off the road.
- Whenever possible, cross streets at crosswalks or intersections, where drivers expect pedestrians. Look for cars in all directions, including those turning left or right.
- If a crosswalk or intersection is not available, locate a well-lit area where you have the best view of traffic. Wait for a gap in traffic that allows enough time to cross safely; continue watching for traffic as you cross.
- Never assume a driver sees you. Make eye contact with drivers as they approach to make sure you are seen.
- Be visible at all times. Wear bright clothing during the day, and wear reflective materials or use a flashlight at night.
- Watch for cars entering or exiting driveways, or backing up in parking lots.
- Avoid alcohol and drugs when walking; they impair your abilities and your judgment.
If any resident ever has a question or concern, they are encouraged to contact the Avon Police Department through the APD’s business line at 508-583-6677. In the event of an emergency, always dial 9-1-1.