For individuals driving on congested Staten Island roads, heavy traffic at intersections creates not only frustration but poses significant danger for driver's attempting to make left turns. At many intersections, drivers are forced to sit idly in traffic while others attempting to make left turns must wait for the oncoming traffic to pass.
Drivers are often forced wait through a series of green and red lights before they are finally able to pass through the intersection. Often, intersection accidents occur when a driver's impatience or inattention causes them to make a left turn into oncoming traffic.
In response to the problem, Mid-Island Republican City Councilman Steven Matteo has presented the DOT with a plan to have left turn signals installed at 20 problematic Staten Island intersections. The new traffic signals would alleviate traffic and improve overall safety at these intersections. Despite Councilman Matteo's efforts however, the DOT has approved the installation of left turn signals at only 3 of the 20 suggested installation sites, with a fourth currently being considered.
Contrary to the experience of Staten Island Driver, the DOT claims that the intersections for which the proposal was denied were deemed to have adequate space for drivers to make left turns without creating traffic and, notably, there were few car crashes reported at these intersections.
Essentially, despite concern and complaints about heavy congestion at intersections, the DOT has suggested that many are not quite "bad enough" and would require a higher rate of vehicle collisions to require the installation of left turn traffic signals.
The public outcry for the installation of the left turn signals is not just in Staten Island, but in all five boroughs of New York City. Indeed, Public Advocate Leticia James recently called for the installation of more than 100 left turn traffic signals at intersections throughout the city.
The installation of traffic signals at these intersections is a common sense measure to improve traffic safety and alleviate heavily trafficked areas. The fact that the DOT has found a low incident rate at certain intersections is a weak justification for refusing to install necessary signals. The more heavy trafficked intersections demonstrate the dangers associated with a lack of such signals. The DOT should not wait until traffic and automobile accidents spike before doing something about the situation.