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Accident-Filled Norwalk Road Called a Hazard

NORWALK, Conn. – At least one accident a week occurs on the busy stretch of Norwalk roadway where a motorcyclist was killed last week, according to employees who work in businesses there.

Scott Mikita, manager of Town Fair Tire, goes further: Sometimes several accidents occur in the same day. "It always seems the case there's one car in one lane telling you to go ahead, the other lane doesn't seem to see it happening," he said. The number of "little businesses" on Main Avenue, also known as Route 7, between Grist Mill Road and West Rocks Road contribute to the hazards, he said.

Kevin Nursick, a Connecticut Department of Transportation spokesman, has a different opinion. "The pattern, what we see typically, is motorists failing on the most basic of levels to obey the rules of the road," he said.

Nursick provided the most recent statistics available:

• The nearly half-mile stretch of roadway from where Super Route 7 exits onto Grist Mill Road to where Main Avenue meets West Rocks Road saw 408 accidents from Jan. 1, 2006, to Dec. 31, 2009.

• Of those 408 accidents, 399 resulted in property damage only. There was one fatal accident, and the rest resulted in minor injuries.

• The No. 1 reason for an accident there is drivers following other vehicles too closely, which accounted for 41 percent of the accidents.

• The second most common reason for accidents was failure to grant the right of way, which accounted for 24 percent of the accidents.

• The third reason was changing lanes improperly, which accounted for 7.5 percent of the accidents.

"This is indicative of what we see statewide: motorists failing on the most basic level to obey rules of the road that all of us are taught and need to know before we are given our driver's licenses," he said. More than 450,000 accidents statewide over those four years show the same pattern, Nursick said.

The state considers infrastructure improvements for safety measures when possible, he said, but has found that making roads bigger simply draws more traffic. The real problem is that drivers need to understand that they can't have instant gratification and must slow down and be more courteous on the roads, Nursick said.

Mikita, of Town Fair Tire, could not see a way to improve the stretch of Main Avenue that he has worked on for 10 years. "You can't put a light up every 50 feet," he said. "It's just a real busy stretch." It's even worse for pedestrians crossing the road, he said.

Jill Luteyn, who lives in New York's Westchester County and works in Wilton, says that making a left turn out of a plaza on the busy part of Main Avenue should be illegal, as it is in similar areas of New York.

Luteyn likes to stop at A-Z Variety and Cigar Outlet at 630 Main Ave. on the way home. She was upset Monday afternoon because she watched a young driver make a left turn out of the plaza into the northbound lane of Main Avenue while talking on a cellphone.

"People have no patience," she said. "They can't wait 30 seconds."

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