Police: Traffic Accidents Minimal at Darkened Intersections

Police report only two accidents at intersections where traffic signals lost power after Hurricane Sandy.

A Jeep Laredo traveling north over the Maple Avenue Bridge into Fair Lawn Monday night was t-boned by a westbound motorist as it passed through the lightless intersection with River Road, police said.

The Laredo rolled over twice from the force of the impact and was totaled. Its two occupants escaped serious injury and declined transport to the hospital, but a passenger in the westbound Toyota Corolla, which police said initiated the accident, was taken to the hospital with chest pain.

Like the traffic signals on many of Fair Lawn's busiest roads, the Maple Avenue/River Road signal had been without power since Hurricane Sandy swept through town a week earlier.

While motorists will tell you there have been multiple close calls, police said only one other such accident -- at Fair Lawn Avenue and Orchard Street -- has occurred since Sandy knocked out power to traffic signals around town.

Lt. Derek Bastinck said police have tried to limit confusion at intersections where signals are out by using orange cones to funnel traffic. After the accident at Fair Lawn and Orchard, police made further adjustments to the cones, funneling traffic to one lane, he said.

Bastinck said it's important for motorists to treat an intersection where lights are out like they would a stop sign.

Monday's accident at Maple and River occurred because the westbound driver did not stop, Bastinck said. 

By and large, however, both police and borough manager Tom Metzler have said motorists have been driving cautiously and courteously.


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Jenne November 09, 2012 at 04:02 PM
I was impressed with the behavior at these intersections while the lights were out. I actually felt safer at Maple & Wagaraw with no streetlights than I do normally-- people were careful and considerate. However, the township and police department might think about obtaining (maybe even soliciting donations for) [more] temporary stop signs and possibly detour signs for disasters like this. With the aging electric infrastructure and the number of storms we've had lately, we'll probably need them again.
abook November 09, 2012 at 05:17 PM
Yes I noticed the same thing. I wonder if they should use flashing yellow lights more often. You can have technology used to know if there is any traffic at the light and then let people go thru accordingly.
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