Driving Around Town: Opinion by Dr. PaulJul 26th, 2012 | By Sanjay Paul | Category: Features, Front Page
After the traffic signs at the intersection of High and Market Streets were reconfigured several months ago, drivers could make left turns more confidently. Since then, nothing has happened to change that fact, although an astute observer of the local scene reports, having conducted a study of traffic patterns at the signal, that he has seen a number of drivers going through red lights at the busy intersection.
Which brings up an interesting question about public safety. What has been the effect of the signal redesign on traffic violations and accidents? Has public safety (defined, broadly, to include that of car drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians) improved–or deteriorated? Perhaps data collected by the borough can be shared with the public. If public safety has indeed improved, the borough should advertise the fact. On the other hand, if safety has declined, the borough may adopt remedial measures to ensure safer road conditions at the intersection.
Of course, the borough should engage in such systematic analysis for all major intersections, including the newest one at Market St. and College Ave. The data can then be used to make further improvements. Little things like this can lead to significant improvements in the quality of life for the residents of the city.
Etownians may also note some recent findings on how affluence affects social behavior. A study found that luxury car drivers were more likely to cut off other motorists instead of waiting for their turn at the intersection. Even pedestrians are more at risk from affluent drivers: luxury car drivers were also more likely to speed past a pedestrian trying to use a crosswalk, even after making eye contact with the pedestrian. (http://www.pnas.org/content/109/11/4086.short)
So what is the lesson from these studies? Office workers in downtown Etown may wish to exercise caution while crossing Market St. Those planning to go across the street to Subway for lunch should watch out for luxury cars. If they espy them coming their way, they may wish to turn back and eat at Pita Pit instead. Similarly, those on the other side may wish to stay with Subway rather than risk life and limb to get to Pita Pit. We are fortunate to have eating establishments on both sides of the road.