STOP … Before someone gets hurt

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A concerned reader wrote a letter in the June Camden News to ask how they might address the increasingly widespread issue of drivers failing to stop at STOP signs. A regular topic of conversation among Northside neighbors and indeed throughout the City. STOP sign violations are, literally, an accident waiting to happen.

As with many safety-related issues, citizen advocacy is key to both identifying a solution to the problem and ensuring corrective action is taken by local authorities. If your neighborhood has STOP signs that are ignored by drivers, here are some steps you can take to build awareness of the issue so your neighborhood can become a safer place.

Public Works

The Public Works department is responsible for making decisions related to placement of signage and taking the needed measures to ensure intersections are appropriately marked and therefore safe. Call the City’s 311 service number to get the ball rolling.

Calling 311

  • Before you call, organize your information:
  • Talk to neighbors, rally local support, gather feedback on levels of concern as well as potential solutions.
  • Know the specific cross-street(s) affected, relevant details such as proximity to a park, school, other high-traffic areas.
  • Be able to describe eye witness accounts such as incidents you or your neighbors may have witnessed specifically created by the problem.
  • Be able to identify if there are a high number of children in the area that use the intersection and are therefore at risk from non-stopping drivers.
  • If possible, provide a count of cars that didn’t stop during specific periods.
  • Have pen and paper to hand so you can note the date of your call, specifics of the response from the City operator, information on who will be handling your concerns, etc.
  • Ask for what you want. The City operator is required to make a note of your concerns as well as the solutions that you are presenting. They may include:
    • Turning a two-way STOP into an all-way STOP.
    • Installation of flashing lights to signal the upcoming STOP sign(s).
    • Installation of a temporary speed monitor.
    • Creating a pedestrian crossing, especially if the intersection is a major ingress/egress to a high-traffic area such as a park.
    • Installing traffic lights in place of STOP sign(s).
    • Creating a traffic circle (also known as a roundabout).
  • Ask about next steps, which individual will be dealing with the problem (if known), how do you follow up on your request?
  • Ask for a reference number, confirmation of your call.

Communicate the results of your call

  • There is power in numbers. Tell your neighbors about your call, give them the reference number, encourage people to make their own call to 311. Communication tools may include:
    • Neighborhood/community Facebook page(s).
    • com.
    • Neighborhood association website.
    • Handwritten notes to neighbors in the immediate vicinity of the STOP sign(s).
    • Neighborhood association email group of members and/or residents.
    • Adding the topic to the agenda of an upcoming neighborhood association meeting.
    • Neighborhood newsletter.

Collaborating with your neighborhood cops

  • Call the 4th Precinct and request increased monitoring of the intersection. Traffic tickets can be a great deterrent.
  • Flag down squad cars that may be working in your neighborhood, have a friendly chat about your concerns, and ask if they can help out by watching the intersection and issuing tickets.
  • Tell them how much you appreciate their efforts to keep your neighborhood safe.
  • Ask your neighborhood association to provide you with the contact information for your Crime Prevention Specialist. Contact them and ask for their guidance on how to resolve the issue.

Get political

  • Write to your local City Council Member. Tell them about your efforts to-date and ask for their help.
  • Ask your neighbors if they have any political/City contacts and have them reach out to those individuals.

Don’t stop!

Finally, follow up regularly. The 311 operator should be able to give you action dates, based on your case reference number, as to next steps being taken by the City. This is especially critical if there are new incidents at the intersection resulting from drivers not stopping as required. Ensure the City and any of your contacts are notified immediately that this is an ongoing and very grave safety concern. The squeaky wheel gets the grease!