EAST HAVEN, Conn. — The Connecticut Department of Transportation is tracking a troubling trend. A spokesperson for the DOT said 74 pedestrians have been struck and killed on our roadways so far in 2022 alone.
"Which is the most in Connecticut since the mid-1980s," said Josh Morgan, a spokesperson for CT DOT.
In the last two weeks alone, nine people have been struck by motorists in Connecticut.
On Wednesday night, a 74-year-old man was killed in East Haven while crossing North High St.
East Haven Police said Nicholas Marino parked his car and was crossing the street near the 600 block of North High St. when a car hit him. He was pronounced dead on the scene. Police said the driver pulled over as soon as he realized what happened, and called 911. That driver is not facing any charges at this time.
"The motorist involved was fully cooperative, stayed on scene, he was not injured during this incident and again, it's still under investigation," said Cpt. Joseph Murgo with the East Haven Police Department.
Murgo said that a stretch of road is not particularly a problem area, but conditions can be dangerous there.
"It is a long, dark stretch of roadway. And we see that when those types of conditions exist, the potential for pedestrian accidents does increase," Cpt. Murgo said.
This is the first case of its kind that East Haven has seen so far this year. But the same does not hold true across the state.
This month alone, five people have died while crossing Connecticut roadways. It's a trend Morgan said is coming to light not only in Connecticut but across the country. There are many contributing factors at play.
"The rates of speed are up across Connecticut, the rates of impaired driving and distracted driving are up," Morgan said.
Right now, the DOT is working on solutions to fix this problem.
"We're talking to our law enforcement partners, we're talking to DOTs around the country to see what is going on. There's a lot of thought that the pandemic has really exasperated some risky behaviors," Morgan said.
So, they're working on a few projects within their own department and with other agencies across the country. Things like adding crosswalks and improving the signaling in those crosswalks for both pedestrians and drivers.
Local police departments like East Haven Police are working on solutions, too. Just last year, the department joined a task force with other agencies in the region to create a traffic enforcement unit. It includes police from East Haven, North Haven, Branford, North Branford, Guilford and Madison. Their sole job is to look out for traffic safety violations and inform drivers of the rules of the road.
"The creation of the team was in response to citizen complaints, number one, but also crash data," Cpt. Murgo said.
However, the police can't fix this all on their own.
"I think we all just need to take it a little slower right? It seems like everybody is in a rush these days," Cpt. Murgo said.
Police are asking people who may be walking on a busy street to make sure to face in the direction of oncoming traffic, so they can see them coming their way. Wear bright-colored clothing whenever possible and utilize the crosswalks. For drivers, police are asking everyone to put the distractions down and be on the lookout for people crossing the street.
The accident on N. High St. in East Haven is still under investigation. If anyone has any information, contact the investigating officer Detective Jon Trinh at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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