Lakewood Mayor Ray Coles Weighs in on Accidents Around Town

TLS recently received the following ‘Ask The Mayor’ email:

What is being done to help mitigate the serious issue of reckless drivers in the township? Every day, there are numerous reports of serious accidents, many of them avoidable. As I drive through Lakewood, I am frightened and horrified by the sheer amount of people who are driving distracted, whether it be talking on the phone, texting, eating, etc. These distracted drivers often blow through stop signs and red lights since they are not sufficiently aware of their surroundings.

I would like to propose a two-pronged approach. First, a safety awareness campaign that will include distribution of free handsfree devices for those whose vehicles lack bluetooth technology. Second, the police should give out tickets religiously for speeding, cell phone use, and the like. (I know that recently there was talk about upping the ante with regards to traffic law enforcement, but it seems to me that since then the problem has only gotten worse. )

So many of the accidents we are seeing are preventable, if proper steps are taken. I hope that the township will do all it can, and that the people of Lakewood will respond in kind.

Thank you.

The Mayor responded with the following statement:

Good morning,

I have received many emails and calls about this issue. I’ve been speaking with the chief about how we can make an impact with this problem.

The enhanced enforcement detail which the police department began several weeks ago will continue. We are also looking into some educational programs designed to reach those who are just getting their license. Behind the wheel driver’s education is obviously very important, but when I was getting my license (way back in the 1970’s) we had a program where we were given lectures and shown films about the affects careless driving. Some of these films were disturbing to see, but the effect of seeing what can happen from careless driving has stuck with me to this day. Some similar programs directed at younger drivers may help. During a conversation with Chief Meyer last week, I was shocked to learn some of our younger drivers jokingly refer to “Racing The Red”, speeding through a light when it is changing, rather than slowing down.

Bluetooth technology has certainly made things safer, but it still very possible to become distracted while using it.

Enforcement and education will only go so far. Safety on our roads essentially boils down to those of us behind the wheel. We must all make a concerted effort to be safer when we drive. That may mean allocating a little extra time. We should all subscribe to the Township police department Nixel alerts which can let us know when an accident or construction shuts down a stretch of road so we can make plans to avoid it. Paying attention to the road while we drive is essential. We must all learn to put the phone down and focus on the task at hand.

When my father was teaching me to drive around the Staten Island Mall Parking lot, he gave me a piece of advice, which I filed away & even passed down to my children when I was helping them with their lessons. He said “always assume the person in the next car is out to get you!” He didn’t mean it in a sinister way, but rather as a way to pay attention not only to what I was doing, but to what those around me may do. Be aware of our surroundings. Don’t just look at the car directly in front of you but see what is going on in front of them. I’m sure I avoided several accidents over the years by seeing brake lights through the window of the car in front of me and being able to slow down in time. Don’t hit the gas the second the light turns green. Check to make sure traffic in the opposite direction is actually stopping before you proceed into the intersection.

We will always have accidents, but I am sure that if we all work together and pay closer attention while we drive, be a bit more polite to those we share the road with we can cut down on the number of incidents and make our streets much safer.

It should not take a traffic ticket to give us that wake up moment. Rather it is the reflection of our children in the rear view mirror or those in the car next to us that should remind us of the awesome responsibility we assume when we get behind the wheel.

Stay Safe


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  1. If people would know how many people we’re hurt in Lakewood and some even seriously, I heard that someone with 5 kids in town got paralyzed rl this year from an accident. And signs on street saying slow down drive safe keep a distance etc.

    • Funny you mention kids in the rear view mirror. It’s shocking when I occasionally see kids jumping around in moving cars. Why are they not wearing seatbelts??

  2. Yes, the accidents are caused by distracted and inconsiderate drivers. But what about the gridlock (which causes drivers to do reckless things, although that’s no excuse)? This town is, as always, proactive instead of reactive. I live in Lakewood over 40 years. When developments are built, the infrastructure should be prepared BEFORE the building. It’s called urban PLANNING. I recall that after Westgate was built and traffic started backing up on Central Ave. (That had never happened before), there were improvements made to Central Ave. Guess what? There has to be planning when building a huge complex such as Westgate. The improvements should have been made BEFORE Westgate was built so no one had to be inconvenienced. Unfortunately, that’s how Lakewood operates over and over again. Reactive instead of Proactive. And now we have accidents and gridlock as a result. We who lived here then saw it coming, but no one listens to the little people. Our local govt. should be ashamed of itself and should be voted out ASAP. I regret all those years when I naively obeyed the Vaad and voted their cronies in again again, to continue the damage to Lakewood. I don’t listen to them anymore now that I see what their lack of planning and self advancement has done to this once lovely town.

  3. Why are people for the cops to give out tickets. You know wants they have a free hand to give tickets…. (the mashchis don’t differentiate between good and bad)

    The more important safety issues are regarding TRAFFIC, we have frustrated drivers, we have dangerous traffic congestion, BUT FOR YEARS ALL WE HEAR ITS THE COUNTY it’s this that and the other thing, with NO SOLUTION

  4. Before you bash Lakewood drivers,
    We don’t know if there are more accidents in Lakewood compared to any other similiar sized city with such poor road infrastructure. It would be worthwhile to investigate this question.
    The problem of auto accidents in Lakewood is that since there were so few cross roads built, every fender bender affects thousands of people. If the township would have built more roads, you wouldn’t be noticing the normal accidents that happen, you would use an alternative route. My question to the mayor is why was Lakewood built this way & what can you do to change it? I see many near accidents from drivers inching onto the 9 after waiting endlessly for the traffic to clear, then forgetting to look both ways. The roads of Lakewood are an unplanned disaster.

  5. We’re experts when it comes to checking for bugs & observing the most machmir level of tsnius. But when it comes to pikuach nefesh & basic menschlichkeit we can use some work.

  6. People are definitely driving while distracted. However, if there are multiple accidents in the same areas, over and over, there is probably an issue with the area as well.
    I have not seen anything in the Mayor’s response about what the Township plans to do to fix these areas, only to blame the drivers.

  7. The accidents are a function of having country roads in a city full of people.

    All proceeds from the tickets people are so desperate to have distributed should go directly to purchasing traffic lights (to replace the stop signs).

  8. IMHO, it goes both ways. Since there ius so much traffic, drivers can get impatient when waitying in traffic, and check their phones. Once they check their phones then, that can lead to (but not necessarily) talking on the phone when driving.
    The big problem with Lakewood traffic is that drivers think that it will take x amount of time to get somewhere. Once they get stuck in traffic, they will drive fast as then they are in a rush and turn left on yellow lights, etc., even violating rules. This added to the poor infrastructure of the town not made for so many cars on the road, leads to gridlock.
    This problem just keeps on getting worse, with the Township, County and State all dragging their feet.

    • It would seem that the problem is with the State. How long have we waited for the mythical stoplight on Oak Street? Not the fault of the Mayor or the County!

  9. We need more left turn lights at busy intersections, like Rte. and James/Pine St. I know it’s a state road, but, the state HAS to do something about it! Where is the traffic light proposed at Oak St. and Rte. 9 or at Evergreen? I heard about plans for them over a year ago! Some lights change way to fast so people have to wait through several light changes to turn, like at Cross St. and Rte. 9. or Massachusetts and Prospect. All traffic lights should have sensors so when there is light traffic they could change more often or have blinking lights late at night, so cars don’t have to wait for a red to change to green, when there are no cars coming, or when there’s a lot of traffic have a longer light in both directions so cars can make left turns.

  10. In Brooklyn, we all lamented when the speed limit in NYC was lowered to 25 MPH, but nobody complained when the traffic deaths (CV”S) stopped.

    Your Honor – please consider drastic measures like this to save lives!

  11. Lowering speed limits is useless, since people tend to ignore what’s posted. It ONLY works in combination with speed and red light cameras, when racing through them takes money out of your wallet. Do you really want those obnoxious cameras planted all over town as an admission of awful driving habits and our refusal to voluntarily correct bad behaviors on the road?

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