State lawmakers announced several recommendations on Friday aimed at diminishing fatal accidents and the traffic congestion that follow them on the South Fork, including installing cameras on traffic signals, reducing speed limits and changing the ways state, county and local governments share emergency response services.
The report came from the South Fork Highway Safety Roundtable, a group of 25 to 30 state, county, local police officers, emergency responders, educators, and elected officials convened by State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. and Senator Kenneth P. LaValle in response to a series of accidents that occurred on the East End last year.
The South Fork Highway Safety Roundtable has not reconvened in its entirety since last year, but the sub-groups—which focused on education, enforcement and engineering, respectively—issued recommendations to the state legislators earlier this summer, Mr. Thiele wrote in an email. He said the work groups “met several times in early 2013 and submitted recommendations to Senator LaValle and me early in the summer.”
Recommendations from the report include expanding an already established Red Light Safety Program in Suffolk County to the South Fork to deter people from running red lights, seeking ways to slow traffic around business districts and schools, enhancing education about “distracted driving” and increasing signage in areas of with dense deer populations, according to a press release from Mr. Thiele’s office.
The report also made suggestions aimed at shortening traffic tie ups following fatal and serious crashes to prevent crippling traffic jams, including “maximizing the efficiency of and reducing the response time for medical examinations done at the scene of an accident,” according to the release.
The report also credited the South Fork Highway Safety Roundtable with introducing several initiatives that have either been implemented or are being worked through the State Legislature. These initiatives include increasing fines for talking or texting on a cellphone while driving and repaving parts of Montauk Highway.
Mr. Thiele introduced legislation to allow the red light cameras to be installed on the East End to catch drivers speeding earlier this year. That legislation was referred to the Transportation Committee in April but has been stationary since then, according to the New York State Senate website.
According to the report, officials also are discussing ways to increasing safety on Flanders Road—namely by adding traffic lights and center line rumble strips, eliminating center turn lanes, and trying to create a hamlet center.