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Lewisboro Cops Now Keeping Traffic Accident Data

LEWISBORO, N.Y. – The Lewisboro Police Department has begun collecting data on traffic accidents within the town that could help it determine the community’s most dangerous roads and intersections.

The project, which began in January, was prompted by a question posed to Police Chief Frank Secret by Katonah-Lewisboro School Superintendent Paul Kreutzer.

“Dr. Kreutzer thought there had been a large number of school buses getting into accidents and was wondering if it was a normal number or if it was a spike,” Secret said. “I wished I had answer. We had no way of knowing.”

Secret decided to start collecting data on car accidents – including those involving pedestrians and bicyclists. Town board member Dan Walsh helped set up a computer program that would enable the police department create a database.

“A lot of people think that accident reports filled out by the police are for the insurance companies, but they’re actually for the state,” the chief said. “The reports are called MV104-As.”

Secret said there is no way to get the information with a “push of the button,” so now every time a Lewisboro officer fills out a MV104-A, he enters it  into the program that Walsh set up.

“It provides a streamlined look [at the data],” he said. “It doesn’t tell who was involved, but it gives dates, times, location, the weather, injuries and whether a pedestrian or bike was involved. Every morning, when I sign off on an accident report I now put it into the computer.”

Unfortunately, the new database only contains reports filed by the Lewisboro police and not the state police.

“I’d like to be able to grab the state police reports to get the complete info, but this still gives us a pretty good picture though,” Secret said.

Secret said that Lewisboro has five major state highways that run through the town – routes 35, 121, 138, 123 and 22 – and, not surprisingly – most of the accidents take place on these roads.

“Most of the accidents take place on Route 35,” he said. “But does that mean it’s an unsafe road? No. I equate it to the volume of cars. It would make sense that the road with the most cars would have the most accidents.”

The data collected over the last five months shows that Route 35 was the site of 12 accidents; Route 121 had seven; Route 123 had five; Route 138 had two, and Route 22 had one. Of the accidents that happened along Route 35, most of them took place where the road intersects with routes 123 and 121 and Mead Street.

Secret said that makes sense.

“In places like Cross River where Route 35 and 121 intersect, it’s congested and people rush the light to make a turn,” he said.

The chief did note that Lewisboro contains none of New York State’s designated “dangerous roads.”

Secret said that it’s a fortunate thing that most of the accidents collected in the data so far don’t involve serious injuries. The last time there was a fatality involving a car in Lewisboro was when cyclist Dylan Pidegon of South Salem was killed when his bike was struck by a Volkswagen while he was driving along Route 35 in near Spring Street last June.

“There doesn’t seem to be any pattern [to the accidents],” he said. “We know the weather plays a role. We had a pretty mild winter this year with no snow so we probably had fewer accidents. But if you get a snowstorm on a Saturday, the number [of accidents] is going to jump.”

Secret said that the despite the fact that Lewisboro contains a plethora of back roads that are filled with twists and curves – many of them dirt – those streets see surprisingly few accidents.

“If you’ve lived in the town for anything length of time, you know what you’re dealing with,” he said. “You have to take it slow on those roads.”

Secret admits that the sample number of accidents his database has collected so far is too small to draw any real conclusions. That will take a few years.

“When we can compare data from year to year – that will be interesting,” he said.

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