By Dave Rogers
---- — SALISBURY — With the summer beach season right around the corner, pedestrians, bicyclists and those on mopeds are once again sure to flock to the Salisbury Beach area, raising the possibility of a fatal accident or serious injury.
In an effort to make the roads and walkways as safe as possible, the Salisbury Police Department is expected to employ traffic enforcement measures with money recently awarded to them by the state.
Last week, police officials announced the department had been awarded funds from the 2013 Pedestrian, Bicycle and Moped-Type Safety Enforcement and Equipment Grant, sponsored by the Executive Office of Public Safety. The grant will allow police to enhance effective pedestrian-, bicycle- and/or moped-related enforcement efforts to reduce fatalities and injuries.
Salisbury police Chief Thomas Fowler said the department was awarded $1,500 and will use the money to purchase additional crosswalk signs and to pay for overtime to allow officers to conduct directed enforcement. While Salisbury’s population doesn’t warrant a larger chunk of the $75,000 earmarked for the state grant program, Fowler said the funds will be useful in continuing his department’s efforts to be proactive instead of reactive.
Communities applying for the grant were required to commit to heightened traffic enforcement to increase compliance with traffic laws by pedestrians, bicyclists, scooter riders and motorists. Other initiatives included in the grant but under the discretion of police departments include: sending plainclothes officers across crosswalks to see if motorists comply with traffic laws; removing intoxicated pedestrians off streets to avoid a fatal collision; and the dissemination of fliers and other print materials to mobilize business and community groups as well as local residents.
With a large number of bars and restaurants, not to mention Salisbury Beach, police officers respond to many intoxicated person calls throughout the summer season. It is hoped by police that the grant money will allow them to lessen the chance of a dangerous confrontation between motorists and those under the influence of alcohol.
Between 2005 and 2010, 2,000 bicyclists and pedestrians were injured in Massachusetts and 420 persons died while riding or walking on or near Massachusetts roadways, according to the Massachusetts Traffic Records Analysis Center. Statistics also show that the highest incident rate for bicycle injuries and fatalities occurs in the summer months.