CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – About 7,500 people in the U.S. were struck and killed by drivers in 2022. Western Massachusetts is no stranger to this growing problem.
The city of Chicopee reported five pedestrian deaths last year.
“Whether it’s dim-lit areas, distracted drivers, distracted walkers; you name the issue people are getting hit by cars in Chicopee and that’s the reality of it,” said State Rep. Shirley Arriaga. “I grew up in Chicopee and it has never been worse than it is right now.”
Now state and local leaders are taking action to reverse this deadly trend. The state granted Chicopee $50,000 to continue making roadways and sidewalks safer for pedestrians.
State Sen. Jacob Oliveira told 22News, “We are ensuring that the speeds are capped to a minimum, ensuring that there are crosswalks, flashers, and ensure that pedestrians can safely cross our streets.”
Local leaders say the grant money will be used to:
- Install more flashing beacons across the city
- Obtain solar-power speed indicators to slow cars down
- Additional signage for pedestrian crossings at intersection crosswalks
Chicopee Mayor John Vieau is urging drivers to practice safe driving behaviors and asking them to stay off their phones.
“It’s not just the kids in school, it’s the people out there driving their cars,” Mayor Vieau emphasized. “It has to be your top priority when you get behind the wheel that you are going to focus 100% on driving.”
According to data from MassDOT, the worst spot for pedestrians is along the Deady Memorial Bridge in Chicopee Falls which is the site of 11 pedestrian crashes between 2011 and 2020.