Police calling for road safety changes after 3 more pedestrian-involved accidents

Local police departments are trying to raise awareness, reminding both drivers and pedestrians to be safe.
Published: Jan. 9, 2023 at 4:20 PM EST
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WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) - Three more pedestrian-involved accidents took place over the weekend, bringing the total to more than 10 over in recent months. Police departments across western Massachusetts are now trying to bring awareness to pedestrian safety.

Two of those crashes took place in Chicopee and one in West Springfield. They can be added to a long list of serious and even fatal pedestrian crashes over the last few months.

Local police departments are trying to raise awareness, reminding both drivers and pedestrians to be safe.

On Saturday night, a pedestrian was hospitalized after being injured in a hit-and-run in Chicopee at the on-ramp from Grattan Street to I-391 Northbound.

Also in Chicopee, a person suffered minor injuries after being hit by a car on East Street.

Over the river in West Springfield, a 44-year-old man was hit by a car on Daggett Drive and taken to the hospital with head and chest injuries.

These brought the total to 11 serious or fatal pedestrian-involved crashes in Western Massachusetts since October, including the communities of Chicopee, West Springfield, Springfield, and Hadley.

Sgt. Joseph LaFrance with the West Springfield Police Department told Western Mass News that witnesses to the latest crash on Sunday just after 5 p.m. said that the pedestrian was wearing all dark clothing, and not using a crosswalk. Now, Sgt. LaFrance wants to bring awareness to pedestrian safety laws.

“We’re trying to bring awareness,” he said. “Pedestrians need to be careful, as well as motorists.”

He wants to remind those walking on the street that you have to have stepped on to the crosswalk in order for drivers to be required to stop. And, just as distracted driving can be dangerous for motorists, it can also be dangerous for pedestrians who do not pay attention.

“We see a lot of pedestrians crossing the street and they are looking at their phone,” Sgt. LaFrance said. “They are looking down instead of looking at oncoming traffic.”

Just last week in his final days in office, then-governor Charlie Baker signed the Road Safety Law, which means drivers are now required to leave four feet between them and a pedestrian or bicyclist when they are passing them on the roads.

Sgt. LaFrance said that the West Springfield Police Department plans to start enforcing that law on the streets. However, he said that most pedestrian accidents do not involve people walking on the side of the road.

“We’re not seeing a lot of problems with moving over,” he told us. “We’re seeing problems in the crosswalks themselves or pedestrians crossing the street and not using crosswalks.”

He hopes that the constant news of people being injured or dying in these types of crashes will encourage the state to do more for pedestrian safety.

“I think the state has to do something to bring awareness to pedestrian safety, motorist safety,” Sgt. LaFrance said. “We can all do our part. We all have to do our part to bring safety to pedestrians.”

In regards to charges for the latest three incidents, Massachusetts State Police are still investigating the crash and looking for the driver in the hit-and-run on the I-391 on-ramp.

For the other two, charges will not be filed.