New Traffic Signal Helps Save Pedestrian Lives

One New York City suburb has gone without a single pedestrian-motor vehicle accident in the past year. Leonia, New Jersey has implemented a new traffic signal for one of the area's busiest crossroads. The intersection between Fort Lee Road and Broad Avenue has introduced an all-red phase traffic signal, stopping traffic in all directions for 26 seconds every other cycle. 

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The intersection is often congested with vehicles trying to take a different route across the Hudson River, other than the crowded George Washington Bridge. With all four directions temporarily turned red, pedestrians can safely cross the busy intersection and even cross diagonally if desired.

During the two years before the introduction of the all-red signal phase, 7 pedestrians were hit by cars at the intersection. One New Jersey woman was dragged more than 70 feet along the road, leading to her death.  

Mayor Judah Zeigler told USA TODAY, “If we had kept going down the course we were going down, it was really a matter of when, not if, another pedestrian would be killed.”  

Senior citizens, who take longer to cross the road, and students benefit the most from the all red-signal, according to Chief Thomas Rowe of the Leonia Police Department. Many students walk to a nearby elementary school that is less than a block away from the intersection. School foot traffic coincides with rush hour, further clogging the roads and endangering pedestrians. 

Rowe said, “The benefits have been exactly what we were hoping for, and there’s absolutely no reason for us to go back to the way it used to be. I can’t allow our pedestrians to be put in danger.” 

While some motorists have complained about traffic being further delayed by the all-red signal phase, it is clear that pedestrian safety is the number one priority for the city of Leonia. 

Throughout the US, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says on average, a pedestrian is killed every 2 hours and injured every 7 minutes in traffic crashes. Considering this staggering statistic, it is no surprise that towns such as Leonia are taking steps to improve pedestrian safety. In addition, both pedestrians and drivers can take steps to keep roads safer. People on foot should use sidewalks to cross streets whenever possible, be visible with bright or reflective clothing, and never assume that automobile drivers see them. Motor vehicle operators on the other hand, should always watch for pedestrians, slow down, and be prepared to stop when approaching a crosswalk, and use extra caution in hard-to-see conditions, like at night or in bad weather. 

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Accidents happen; that's reality. However, efforts taken by cities like Leonia to make roads safer for pedestrians may help prevent serious injuries or fatalities from car crashes. Everyone has been a pedestrian at some point in their lives. If all it takes to keep people on their feet is stopping at a red traffic light for 26 seconds longer, more cities need to take note in order to reduce pedestrian-vehicle collisions. 

Chickens aren't the only ones trying to cross the road. Pedestrians walking on busy roads are constantly at risk of being hit by a motor vehicle, even when all they want is to get to the other side. If you or someone you know has been involved in a pedestrian motor vehicle collision, contact The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation. 

Detroit's Street Lighting Overhaul

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In Detroit, Michigan more than 50 light poles became damaged and were in need of replacement every month due to vehicle collisions. This year alone, two fatal speeding car crashes on Detroit’s westside resulted in death and have respectively caused a damaged utility pole and a split pole. Car vs. pole collisions are one of the leading reasons why the Public Lighting Authority (PLA) worked diligently to replace the streetlights in Detroit. In fact, the streetlight project was one they had been working on since they were formed in 2013, following the Auto Industry Crisis during which the city fell on hard times causing many streetlights to be neglected and longer operating. In addition, during this economic downfall, an estimated 40% of the 80,000 streetlights within the city were scrapped for their metal.

In December 2016, Dr. Lorna Thomas told The Detroit Free Press that, "This is a symbolic project. It stands for the resurgence of Detroit," Thomas said. "They said it couldn't be done."

The symbolic lighting project has replaced over 65,000 streetlights since 2014 with LED light bulbs that save on energy while emitting a brighter light. The PLA also took it upon themselves to upgrade 85%-90% of the lighting systems and wiring to deter vandalism. Since the old lights using copper based wiring, scrappers would strip the light poles of the wiring to sell the copper linings for money. The PLA also hoped to put a stop to theft by changing the wiring to hang overhead instead of in the ground under the light poles.  

Another reason that citizens of Detroit have been pleased by these much needed repairs is because they didn't have to pay for them upfront. The repairs and upgrades were paid for in the form of bonds provided by Citicorp, a New York based banking corporation that agreed to have the money paid back over a 30-year-period, through Detroit’s utility tax.

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The PLA was proud to announce that the lighting project had been completed ahead of time and under budget, at the end of 2016. Motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians can benefit from better lightning on Detroit roads as a study by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) attributed 40% of motor vehicle accidents to be the result of intersections that are poorly lit at night. The USDOT says those accidents can be reduced by 35% if streetlights were properly installed at intersections. So, the completion of the project could not come at a better time as the summer weather causes more cars to be on the road late at night. Also, the new and better lighting keeps users of Detroit's new bike share program MoGo, safer if people want to ride bicycles after dark. 

Detroit residents are urged to call 844LIGHT313, if a light in their area needs to be serviced. With Detroit undergoing a revitalization, it is up to the residents to help make sure the city keeps the momentum by making sure streets are lit well enough to potentially prevent crime and car accidents.

The PLA's efforts in redesigning the streetlights could help provide Detroit intersections with much needed lighting to help prevent accidents. In addition to this lifesaver, new streetlights may even deter criminal activity. If you or someone you know have been involved in an auto accident, call the Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation. Our firm is highly experienced in dealing with motor vehicle accidents and will help you identify any benefits you may be entitled to under Michigan law.

Top 20 Most Dangerous Michigan Intersections

Everybody believes their local intersection is the worst of all, but now there are numbers to back it up. All but one of the Top 20 intersections for auto accidents in 2015 were located in Macomb, Oakland, and Wayne County (Washtenaw had one intersection listed). The list, compiled by the Michigan State Police Traffic Crash Reporting Unit listed Pontiac Trail and M-5/Martin Parkway in Commerce Township, a large roundabout, as the intersection with the most crashes (186) in 2015. The list defines intersections as “any road with a traffic signal, four-way stop or roundabout.”

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According to a news release from the Michigan Auto Law firm, almost “30% of all Michigan car crashes and a staggering 26% of fatalities are stemming from just 20 intersections.” Patterns have consistently shown that areas with high traffic volumes see higher crash rates than less busy intersections. One of the reasons Pontiac Trail and M-5/Martin Parkway in Commerce Township saw a steady increase in traffic in 2015 was the closure of Haggerty Road in the area, for construction.

Craig Bryson, a spokesman for the Road Commission for Oakland County, doesn’t necessarily agree with the characterization of the county’s roads being “dangerous”. “Any time anyone puts a list together, there will inevitably be a ‘No. 1.’ That doesn’t necessarily mean that intersection is ‘dangerous.’ It just means it has slightly more crashes than other intersections. Essentially, this is a list of the busiest intersections in the state. It simply makes sense that intersections with the most traffic will have the most crashes,” Bryson said in an email to the Detroit Free Press

Bryson also believes that it would be more effective and accurate to use crash rate statistics, which considers the number of crashes compared to traffic volume. “For example, if an intersection that carries 100,000 vehicles per day has 100 crashes per year, it may not b e as ‘dangerous’ as an intersection that carries 5,000 cars per day but has 50 crashes a year. The second intersection has fewer total crashes, but the likelihood of getting in a crash is far greater,” Bryson explained. 

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Interestingly enough, there was not a single intersection from Detroit listed. “It is likely due to several factors, although safer drivers in the City of Detroit is not one of them. What is more likely is that there continues to be under-reporting of car accidents, especially with approximately 50% of Detroiters driving without mandatory auto insurance,” the release noted. Other reasons for a Detroit absence includes lower traffic volume and lower speed limits in more urban areas. 

The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) released figures showing that the number of fatal traffic crashes in Livingston, Macomb, Monroe, Oakland, St. Clair, Washtenaw and Wayne counties has increased for five consecutive years, with 387 traffic fatalities in 2015. When looking for solutions, SEMCOG Executive Director Kathleen Lomako believes that “to stem the needless loss of life in our region, we must take a broad approach to improving the safety of our transportation system and to making small but potentially life-saving changes to our personal behavior.” 


  1. Pontiac Trail and M-5/Martin Parkway, Commerce Township (186)
  2. Telegraph Road and 12 Mile Road, Southfield (132)
  3. 11 Mile Road and Van Dyke Ave, Warren/Center Line (131)
  4. 18 ½ Mile Road and Van Dyke Ave, Sterling Heights (124)
  5. I-75 and Big Beaver Road, Troy (124)
  6. Ford Road and Haggerty Road, Canton Township (116)
  7. State Road and Ellsworth Road, Ann Arbor/Pittsfield (114)
  8. Hall Road and Schoeherr Road (111)
  9. Metro Parkway and Mound Road, Sterling Heights (102)
  10. Southfield Road and 11 Mile Road, Lathrup VIllage (102)
  11. Hall Road and Romeo Plank, Clinton Township/Macomb (94)
  12. Orchard Lake Road and Maple Road, West Bloomfield (92)
  13. Big Beaver Road and Rochester Road, Troy (92)
  14. Ford Road and Lilley Road, Canton (89)
  15. 11 Mile Road and Gratiot Ave, Roseville (88)
  16. Metro Parkway and Van Dyke Ave, Sterling Heights (84)
  17. Farmington Road and Maple Road, West Bloomfield (84)
  18. 12 Mile Road and Mound Road, Warren (83)
  19. Garfield Road and Hall Road, Clinton Township (82)
  20. Dix Highway and M-39/Southfield Freeway, Lincoln Park (80)

Heavy traffic is nothing new to the residents of Metro Detroit, but the threat of a traffic accidents looms everyday for drivers on the road. Traffic accidents can cause minor bumps and bruises or severe and long lasting injuries. Our attorneys understand the challenges that can come from being injured in an auto accident, including finding a way to pay for medical bills as well as wage loss. If you or somebody you know has been involved in an accident and are looking for help, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC. Call us today, at 844.4MI.FIRM, for a free consultation.