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Opinion: Jericho Tpke. Traffic Horrendous

Students cross Jericho Turnpike Thursday afternoon. Photo Credit: Pam Robinson
Students cross Jericho Turnpike Thursday afternoon. Photo Credit: Pam Robinson

This was written by teacher Sue Cirillo

I am a resident of the neighborhood by which the Whitman student was struck by an SUV on Jan. 14.

I am also a teacher at Silas Wood Sixth Grade Center, also part of South Huntington Schools as is Walt Whitman High School. I have lived in my neighborhood for almost nine years and drive from Jones onto Jericho and return from Jericho to Jones Lane at the end of the day which I have done daily during the school year. Though I was not a witness to the accident, I can share my personal viewpoints.

The traffic on Jericho Turnpike during "rush hours" is horrendous.

 In addition, many cars use Jones Lane to detour to Oakwood Road which has a "no turn on red" sign during these times. 

I have personally witnessed on average three to four vehicles run through the red light at West Hills Road every morning heading west on Jericho Turnpike. This same situation happens almost EVERY time I attempt to pull onto Jericho heading east. 

There is no regard for red lights in most cases, but especially from what I have seen at this intersection. What makes this even more disheartening is that there is a school just south of this intersection with no signs to indicate such. In addition, students tend to cross Jericho from south to north through the West Hills Cemetery which has poor visibility.

 There are no strong street lights there so it is not surprising that the driver of the SUV was unable to see this young man. However, was he or she speeding through a red light? Was he or she texting while driving?

I find it quite disturbing that those who have commented on the behavior of the young man who was struck fail to consider the driver who actually crashed into the young man. 

Any cautious driver who is aware of his/her surroundings would have seen this youngster. The child was walking home from school, not leaving a local pub. As a teacher, I can't grasp the concept of placing the blame on the student when the blame should be on the driver. No student wants to get hit by an Expedition or any other car for that matter. The driver did not see him until it was too late. I wonder if he would have sped away if there were no witnesses.

As stated, I have seen cars drive excessively, through red lights exhibiting reckless behaviors DAILY because I live at this location.

So, perhaps, the readers who are so quick to judge this young boy should spend a day at West Hills Road and Jericho Turnpike and see what I see every day. Maybe they wouldn't accuse the young boy of making a mistake and would see things differently.

jeff January 16, 2014 at 04:55 PM
Most of the children over the years who have been hit while crossing Jericho in this area were not crossing at the cross walks at oakwood rd or at west hills rd. That area is also not lit very well so besides these folks not judging vehicle speed, the drivers can't see them until it's to late. The school and the Family's need to start or or double their efforts to educate the students to cross at the cross walks even after school hours
Billy C January 16, 2014 at 05:36 PM
I walked to both Whitman and Stimson, I live in the same neighborhood as the author, very well written and I absolutely agree but forgive me if I'm wrong aren't there still crossing guards at both lights, West Hills/Jericho and Oakwood/Jericho? If the students are not crossing over there when the guards are staffed then the liability absolutely rests on them. I too am guilty of crossing in between lights when I go for a run but I don't go out there looking to play a game of Frogger like I've seen hundreds of people do over the years, if it's clear I go. To the students, the crossing guard and the lights are there to help you, Burger King is not that important use your heads.
Marita Schimmel-Eybergen January 16, 2014 at 05:40 PM
Jericho in plain words-sucks, there is no perfect time on Jericho tpke to cross, walk or drive. Always something happening on Jericho tpke. Speeding, where are these people speeding to, the next red light that's where. Please this is not the LIE, it's a main road with lots of lights and traffic. Please proceed with caution. Sorry to read about a student getting hit, hope he is ok.
Mary Magerle Panarello January 16, 2014 at 06:31 PM
Unfortunately it is not just Whitman that lacks adequate school zone signage and lighting. I have been nearly rear ended multiple times trying to turn in and out of Countrywood's parking lot by people who are driving way too fast on Old Country Road. It seems time to take a close look at all the schools to see how we can make it safer for all students.
JH January 17, 2014 at 07:08 AM
When I was very young my parents always told me to look both ways before crossing a street, and that carries over for me today, especially being that I work in Manhattan. They also told me to cross at a cross walk on major roads where there are lights and cars that drive very fast. Something tells me that these kids crossing over near Whitman weren't taught that. Unfortunately poor parenting can lead to situations like the one written about above. There is just nothing you can do about it.
Roll Back Our Tax January 17, 2014 at 08:17 AM
I certainly hope the student wasn't texting while walking.
cricket January 17, 2014 at 08:51 AM
Now is a perfect time to remind all residents of the importance of crossing in walkways and to mind the street lights. There are crossing guards at designated corners and they should be utilized. Texting while walking (especially in a roadway) or driving is absolutely unacceptable and dangerous Let's also remind drivers that Jericho Turnpike is not a raceway. I think the town should re-evaluate all the areas around all the schools and in the very least post signs stating it is a school area that requires caution and lower speed. As a parent my heart goes out to the student who was struck and I pray for a quick recovery but let's face it we all have responsibility to protect the CHILDREN in our area. Yes, even the teenagers. Stop blaming and let's work towards making changes.
Tracy Diaz January 17, 2014 at 09:57 AM
The blame is placed on students as a collective, because if you have EVER seen these high school kids crossing Jericho after school, you would know that they do so with no regard for anyone, including themselves. I live on Oakwood Road. I know how bad traffic is. I know that people use Jones to cut through to Oakwood, because I do it myself. Traffic is horrible. However on SEVERAL occasions I have been driving on Tippin Drive, and also on Jericho Turnpike, as middle and high school students not only crowd the roadway so as to block cars from travelling (LIKE GANGS) but they PUSH one another into the street. I have seen this over and over and over again. I actually stopped my car the last time this happened (about a week ago) and gave the kids a lecture. I was greeted with foul language and middle fingers. These kids are reckless, so yes, they are lumped together. Maybe that isn't fair, but it also isn't outside the realm of comprehension that they act irresponsibly, immaturely, and with reckless abandon for those around them. End of story.
Robert W January 17, 2014 at 11:09 AM
Tracy I agree 100 percent! Good luck getting down Tippin Drive when Stimson lets out. They walk curb to curb, do not get out of the way and will punch your car when you drive past them! There is a total lack of respect by these kids.
susan January 17, 2014 at 02:02 PM
There is lots of blame to go around. I live in the same area of Huntington, I work in Oyster Bay (very pedestrian town) Nobody seems to know how to cross a street anymore. I can count dozens of times I see people crossing where ever they want, not caring if the light is red or green. Right in front of Oyster Bay high school on Halloween I had a mother walk out in front of my car with her hand up to stop me so a group of about 6-8 parents and 20 something kids could cross. She just waved the kids across...they were no more than 20 feet from the cross walk, but instead of teaching their kids the right way, they acted stupider than the kids.
BK13 January 17, 2014 at 02:27 PM
First of all, that intersection of West Hills Road and Jericho is a complete nightmare. TONS of accidents there. Jones Lane and Pomodorino/Clubhouse across the street leads to lots of cars going all different directions from all different angles. Stand there and watch for a few minutes during rush hour, it's complete mayhem. Cars face to face in the turning lane, etc. Plus, most drivers are texting/talking idiots so it's a dangerous combo. Then, throw in the clueless kids who don't know how to walk without texting or have their headphones on so they don't hear the cars and it's a bad scene. On top of that, as stated, a lot of these punk kids don't care and walk in the road presuming the cars are going to stop. The people that use Jones Lane as a cut through are also mostly aholes as they blast through there either blowing the stop sign on Jones or cutting sharply onto Wexford. It's just another example of the downfall of society and politeness in general. To address the kids not going to Oakwood Road or out to West Hills Road to use the crossing guard...well I can say that coming out Jones Lane and crossing Jericho through the church is a SIGNIFICANT time saver. Not sure what to do to stop it except for repairing the fence but it's such a huge timesaver the kids will cut the fence over and over. My oldest went through Whitman and he cut through there every day and now my other one does it to. Not sure what the solution is but no way will the kids go that far out of their way in the morning. Shortest distance between two points yada yada...
JSC January 17, 2014 at 02:46 PM
Crossing guards are hired through Suffolk Cty. The schools have to make a request for one and they aren't always approved. They can only stand at intersections, not in-between intersections. They are only at their posts for a short period of time at dismissal, not for after school activities. It seems the only way to keep students from cutting through the cemetery or elsewhere, is to fix or replace the fencing and make it climb-proof and cut-through proof. Perhaps the high school should have an assembly for all walkers to reinforce the importance of crossing safely. Maybe setting up a security camera and instituting some sort of fine/discipline for violators would help fix the problem as well?
Russell Martilla January 17, 2014 at 09:37 PM
Traffic Island!
Anne LaCascia Seifried January 18, 2014 at 11:03 AM
Need an "inbetween" intersections crosswalk, with light timed to the surrounding lights, plus crossing guard.

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