August 30, 2006

Cones Curb Accidents

Most seasoned drivers are familiar with the following scenario: You're stopped just east of the light at the median on Main Street in East Hampton Village, waiting to make a left, crossing over onto North Main Street near the Hook Mill triangle. A well-meaning motorist in the oncoming lane stops and waives you on. You start to go, only to slam on the brakes when another driver passes the Good Samaritan on the right, nearly plowing right into you.

The lesson learned, next time a driver signals a go-ahead, you shake your head "no," brooking the ire of operators in cars in line behind you.

For motorists in East Hampton, the scenario can play out almost daily during the summer season. Or make that, it used to. This year, East Hampton Village put an end to the travel travail, setting up orange cones that prevent passing on the right near the triangle.

Stats show it's been a boon. According to Village Police Chief Jerry Larsen, last year during June, July and August, there were 25 accidents at that site. Although August still has a few days left, so far this season accidents have dwindled to just five.

Yesterday village officials were slated to meet to discuss making the traffic calming measure more permanent. According to Larsen, East Hampton may prevail upon the New York State Department of Transportation, which has authority over Montauk Highway. They'll ask the DOT to consider reconfiguring the curb line on the triangle, bumping it out a few feet to where the cones have been.

Like all good deeds, the cone strategy has not gone unpunished. Larsen reported that he has received some complaints by motorists who claim the cones caused traffic jams. "We monitored this very closely and the backup is minimal," the chief defended. "The safety far outweighs the backup."

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