Our Views: Preventing the next highway tragedy

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The sad truth is that in the year 2014 there is most likely no way to eliminate all traffic fatalities and serious accidents, but more can be done. Until now the pattern has been to learn from tragedies and respond accordingly.

That is what the Nassau County Police Department has done following an accident that killed two Mineola teenagers at the intersection of Roslyn Road and Locust Lane in Roslyn Heights.

Inspector Sean McCarthy said the highway unit is now aggressively patrolling that roadway. The number of summonses handed out to speeding motorists has “increased dramatically,” he said.

In fact, he said, officers from the 3rd Precinct have written 31 summons in the month since the March 5 accident, compared to six in the three-month period between Jan. 1 and March 4 and signs have gone up warning motorists that speed radar is in use in the area.

It has not been determined whether the driver in that accident was speeding or whether alcohol was involved.

Town of North Hempstead officials are working with the police to improve traffic safety including the installation of a 60-foot-long guardrail.

Aggressive police response to accidents is not enough for Jesus Modesto whose uncle, Adrian Vasquez, was killed when a 71-year-old man drove his 2010 Lexus onto a sidewalk along Old Mill Road.  Police said the cause of that accident was “distracted driving.

Modesto said his uncle “would still be alive if it wasn’t for the lack of supervision there is in Great Neck when it comes to traffic violations.”

Village of Great Neck Plaza Mayor Jean Celender said the village only enforces parking violations. “We’ve made numerous requests to the NCPD asking that they provide additional enforcement to deter motorists from speeding or committing other moving violations that we consider quality-of-life issues important to the community.”

McCarthy responded: “We’re always juggling resources to meet the various needs of the communities that we serve. We make every effort to allocate resources to all parts of our service area.”

The police and elected officials must find a way to work together to reduce the number of serious traffic accidents without bankrupting the county. 

The NCPD should apply the lessons it has learned from its successful “predictive policing” campaign that focuses on crime prevention to identify the most dangerous roadways and use intelligent, targeted enforcement to prevent the next highway tragedy before it happens.

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