I-TEAM: Neighbors band together in Canton to slow down reckless drivers
CANTON, CT (WFSB) - It’s a town of only about 10,000 people and yet it’s hard to get from point A to point B in Canton without encountering some form of dangerous driving, according to neighbors.
The I-Team obtained video proof of what’s making them afraid to cross the street.
It features a prime example of what Canton officials said they’ve been trying to stop.
The dashcam video showed a vehicle weaving across lanes and speeding through streets.
Within seconds, the driver crashed into a police cruiser.
Canton police said the sergeant inside wasn’t badly hurt.
The video was from last year, and town officials said the reckless driving has only gotten worse.
“We’ve got drivers that are passing in no passing zones, we’ve got some drivers passing stopped school buses. We have an average speed that’s 10 to 15 miles above the posted speed limit,” said Bob Bessel, first selectman, Canton.
“Where the root cause of all this is, we can all speculate,” said Chief Christopher Arciero, Canton police. “But the reality of it is, is that it is occurring.”
The dashcam video is from Route 44 and Old Canton Road. However, police said the dangerous behavior has been everywhere.
The town did a study with the state Department of Transportation in which it tracked crashes from nearby Dowd Avenue to Bridge Street.
In the last 5 years, there were 206 crashes along the 2-mile stretch of road.
Those incidents were documents. However, many have not been.
“I drove a truck for 30 years for [a] living,” said Rick Frenette, who lives on Dowd Ave. “I’ve seen a lot of things, but nothing like I see nowadays.”
Frenette said he sees everything thanks to a set of cameras mounted on his Dowd Avenue house.
What was supposed to protect him from intruders coming on to his property has now been showing him how dangerous it is to venture off.
“With people passing on the double yellow line, you’ll get hit head on just taking a right out of your own driveway,” Frenette said.
Frenette showed the I-Team his videos.
Some Channel 3 had to slow down so people could clearly see drivers passing on the double line.
A video Frenette recorded from 2017 showed a mailbox taking a hit.
Recently, something much more precious was in harm’s way.
A videoed showed red school bus lights flashing through a tree.
“You can see the little girl start to go and the mother reach out to grab her and then the car goes by,” Frenette said.
“The woman was quick enough to pull her back, and that’s what got us really riled up,” said Jerry Ricard, a neighbor.
Ricard said he does not feel safe on his own street.
Frenette teamed up with his neighbors and now posts video after video on social media to show the dangerous driving to the public.
“If one person changes their driving habits because of it, it’ll be worth it,” he said.
“Start writing tickets because that’s the only way people understand,” said Bill Dresser, a neighbor. “If it costs them money, then they’ll slow down.”
Bessell told the I-Team that the town has dedicated more funds to traffic enforcement, but he’s also looking at redesigning the roads.
Channel 3 tagged along on a road study Bessel did with the DOT.
He said they were looking to add more side barriers and signage along with narrowing the wide lanes on Dowd Avenue.
“It gives the motorist more of an idea that ‘I really need to slow down here,’” Bessell said.
He said redesigns could happen as soon as 6 months from now, if the DOT approves the changes.
In the meantime, police said they are using other resources to catch risky drivers in the act.
“We’re putting external cameras on some of the school buses to address some of the violations of illegal passing of school buses.” Arciero said.
Neighbors said any sort of change would be welcome.
“At this point, whatever helps,” Frenette said.
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