After a 64-year-old woman was hit by a car on Normal Avenue on the evening of Feb. 25, members of faculty who frequently park in the President’s House Parking Lot have expressed concern about the dangers of walking across the street along the crosswalk where the accident happened.
“I cross that intersection every day and am amazed at how many drivers are totally oblivious to pedestrians in the crosswalk that they are supposed to stop for,” said David Sanders, professor of the School of Communication and Media. “Some are on cell phones. Some just not paying attention.”
Dr. Lisa Weinberg, Staff Psychologist for Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), echoed his distresses, saying, “Overall I feel that the crosswalk can be very dangerous. Often cars don’t stop even when I am in the crosswalk. It is especially dangerous at night with less visibility.”
This decreased nighttime visibility and increased hazard which Weinberg noted may have been the cause of last Thursday night’s accident. Montclair State University Police Department received word of the incident around 6:40 p.m., well after the sunset, and Montclair Township Police Department, which is currently handling the case, responded as well.
“It seems to be difficult for cars to see folks waiting to cross,” said Lisa Westreich, Case Manager and Referral Coordinator for CAPS. ”People are often driving pretty fast, and particularly in the dark, pedestrians can’t be seen. I have seen cars come screeching to a halt when someone is crossing. It is so dangerous, and I’m not surprised someone was hit.
At the end of last semester, changes were made on Clove Road in response to a student being struck by a car. PSE&G responded to this accident with the addition of improved streetlights along that stretch of road, which previously had low visibility at night. Members of faculty now call for another response to the Thursday’s incident, which was the second pedestrian accident on campus this academic year.
Many frequenters of the crosswalk agree that additional lighting or other pedestrian safety features should be added to the problem area. Nancy Friedman of CAPS, who is a proponent of change in that area which she calls “really dangerous, especially at night,” said that a blinking light is a necessary addition. Weistreich echoed this suggestion, saying that, with the lights “there will be no question that a pedestrian is trying to cross.”
“I have been hoping that two signs with blinking lights would be put on both sides of the street so that pedestrians could press a button and alert drivers that they will be crossing the street,” said Weinberg, calling for changes similar to what exists at the crosswalk on Clove Road outside of Hawk Crossings.
However, Sanders does not view the proclaimed “dangerous” crosswalk as the issue, but irresponsible drivers overall. “I don’t think this is unique to this crossing, as I have noticed so many drivers doing the same thing all around town,” he said. “The level of attention that drivers pay to their surroundings around Montclair has diminished significantly in the past year or two. I have almost been hit by a car twice in town as people pull out of parking lots way too fast, in school zones no less, without looking both ways on the sidewalk for pedestrians.”