Why Are Lakewood Driving Conditions So Hazardous?

overturn picBy¬†Yehoshua Eidlitz of Skillful Driving School for TLS. It’s no secret that driving in Lakewood is strenuous, difficult and quite often hazardous. Ask anyone from Lakewood, surrounding towns, or even someone who is just visiting. Most will agree that there is a glaringly obvious problem. There is almost always a potential hazard on the roads in Lakewood, regardless of the area or speed limit. This article is not intended to stir up controversy or point fingers. I am certainly not out to open sore wounds. Rather, the purpose here is to address this very serious issue, and perhaps we can come up with some small but effective measures to help alleviate some of the day to day headaches associated with driving in our town.

Some leading causes which factor into difficult driving conditions:

1. One of the main problems drivers in Lakewood face daily is that this town largely revolves around one set schedule. Whether you are directly involved with BMG or not, your schedule will likely be affected by the BMG “hours of operation”. If you work, many of your clients may be in Yeshiva, thus forcing you to revolve around their schedule in order to conduct business. Additionally, if you need to drop off children by a babysitter, chances are that the babysitter will go by Yeshiva schedule for drop off and pick up. This creates a tremendous daily gridlock issue. Due to the fact that everyone MUST get from point A to point B in basically the same time frame, there is very heavy traffic from hundreds of vehicles trying to get across town at the same time. For instance, from around 1:35 p.m. – 2:20 p.m. there is a mad rush of crisscrossing cars. After all, the babysitter made it clear that if you were late one more time picking up your child, they would be kicked out of playgroup. Talk about traumatizing the kid for life! Not only is there an influx of many cars all at once, but they are all in a mad and distracted rush to get somewhere at the same time!

2. Driver distraction. While this is one of the leading factors in accidents the world over, it would seem that Lakewood has more than it’s fair share of distractions while driving. There are a number of reasons for this. Many drivers in Lakewood have a few children in the car at one time. How many times have we all seen a parent in a mini van swerving across lanes because they are reaching behind them trying to give the baby their pacifier, or small child their toy/sippi cup? Definitely not a rare occurrence. I am sure the parent is doing this because they love their child. That being the case, their love for their child should dictate that they pull over and help their child while safely on the side of the road. In addition, we are a relatively small community, and many people here are in the habit of looking around while driving. Perhaps they will see a friend, relative etc. How many times do we see people sort of half pull over (or just stop in the middle of the street) to shmooze? While the closeness of all members of the community is touching, one must always remember that curiosity kills more than cats. Keep your eyes and mind on the road, and if you see a friend, call them when you get to your destination.

3. The streets of 1950’s Lakewood were not built with today’s town in mind. While township officials are working to alleviate some of the issues and making the streets a bit more modern, there is only so much they can do with what they have.

4. Housing developments were made with optimal housing property in mind, but not optimal driving space. There are hardly any lane markings, and even if they were to make them, there would not be enough room for two school buses to pass each other side by side. There are sharp curves which can hide any number of obstacles, as well as a plethora of children running around, very often in the street, as the streets are often the only play areas in the immediate vicinity of these development houses. When parents tell their kids to go and play in the street, in these areas they are not kidding.

5. There are many senior communities in the Lakewood area. While it is not just or fair to make a general statement regarding seniors driving, there are some issues from some seniors which may conflict with traffic flow. For instance, a senior citizen is more prone to Macular Degeneration, Cataracts, poor motor control, weak grip, and poor reflexes. Again, this is not a generalization, but simply possible issues which are much more likely to afflict seniors. In a quiet town, people generally will grin and bear it. They will wait behind the car with the handicap sign even though they may be driving below speed limit etc. However, in Lakewood there is always a conflict between the individuals in a rush with those who are not.

6. Parking in Lakewood creates safety concerns for two reasons. First of all, due to the lack of parking spaces in some of the busier parts of town, people often decide to get creative. By Yeshiva for instance, people will park on the sidewalk, or in a fire lane. Perhaps they will park right by a corner, or halfway in someone’s driveway. If necessity is the mother of invention, Yeshiva schedule is the father. Creative parking is also prevalent in developments across town. People will park on the wrong side, facing the wrong direction, or in a spot which is not intended to be a parking spot. A second hazard which is created by parking in Lakewood is that on many streets cars will park bumper to bumper from corner to corner. This causes a severe lack of visibility to all cars who are inching out by a stop sign trying to cross the street. Just look at Lexington. How many accidents are there from 5th street all the way until 11th street on Lexington?

7. Cultural as well as geographic origin differences. Lets face it, there are a lot of unlicensed drivers on the roads of Lakewood. I do NOT want to start a whole discussion solely relating to illegal aliens driving, but I do firmly believe that this is a contributing factor to hazardous driving conditions in Lakewood. I personally know of some cases in which a driver was hit by an unlicensed driver, and the one who paid for the damage was not the illegal immigrant. The payment came out of the victim’s own insurance company. I am partly convinced that Pennsylvania was only established as a State for the sole purpose of giving out license plates to illegals. Again, the main point I am bringing out here is that there are many drivers on the roads of Lakewood who are not licensed and therefore may not know and obey all of the rules of the road, and may not even be able to read the signs which are in English.

8. Cell phones and texting. As mentioned above, Lakewood is a very social community. Thus, we have people constantly on phones either talking or texting. I challenge anyone to go into a supermarket, Chassunah, or even just drive down a few streets and find a time when there is no one using a cell. The dangers of mixing cell phones with driving can not be emphasized enough! How many accidents are caused due to cell phones?

Of course it is of utmost importance to keep in mind that a REASON is not necessarily an EXCUSE. Yes these are reasons, but that does not mean we can not change things. Mostly, the goal and objective of pinpointing these problems is that all solutions are mainly based around the specific nature of the problems. Thus this article is just the BEGINNING of the discussion. These words are intended to stimulate thought and discussion in areas of safe driving and how this goal may be partially or wholly obtained in Lakewood. I think that if collectively we, the everyday drivers of Lakewood, get together and offer suggestions, we may come up with some productive ideas. By firmly and clearly stating and defining the problems, we can hopefully now come up with some viable solutions.

Note: Please remember that traffic patterns on Purim are greatly altered and unpredictable. If you will be driving, please do NOT let yourself become distracted, even for a second. PLEASE, if you will be drinking, have a plan in place for a designated responsible driver. A Freilichin Purim!

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41 COMMENTS

  1. Although everything he says is true, he would have been better off creating a series of letters & picking 2 or 3 items in each. There is too much there for the people who need it to absorb.

    To sum it up – don’t just think of you – care about others – don’t do anything that may affect others negatively

  2. Many true points, I would of preferred if he would have stressed the point that Jews as a race are not worse drivers, it’s just the difficult conditions in Lakewood. Way to often do we read anti semetic remarks about how “they” drive etc…

  3. Outstanding article and written clearly with much thought and sensitivity.
    Now… on to the solutions (?)
    First, to summarize the reasons above:
    (1) Yeshiva schedule (2) Driver distraction (3) small-town street design (4) Poor planning of building developments (5) “take-it-nice-‘n-easy” drivers vs. “rush-rush-rush” drivers (6) Inventive parking techniques (also known as “parking where I feel like”) (7) PA car registrations (8) Cell phone/ texting
    I would say that reasons 1, 3, 4 and 7 there is really nothing we can do about it.
    For reasons 2, 5, 6, and 8 the “overall” solution is to remember this: Think of others, don’t just think about yourselves! VeHayovin Mayvin….
    Remember, there are MANY opportunities to make a Kiddush HaShem when driving so do it and not c”v the opposite.

  4. When I come to visit my children in Lakewood I hold my breath every time I get in a car and don’t release it until I get to my destination. It shouldn’t be that way. Lakewood, get serious about safe driving!

  5. #7, that’s ironic. When I was younger and went to visit my parents in Boro Park, I used to do that-hold my breath until I got back on the highway and was heading home. I think all those crazy Brooklyn drivers and their descendants have come to live in Lakewood and now that I’m a Lakewood Bubby, the breathholding takes place here!

  6. Sorry to say it im a lifelong resident and its alot of the (moderated) they think they can do what they want on the Road. Up and down all the streets 6-12th streets there parked to the corners where u cant see Police should ticket more.

  7. Terrific article, to the point. I think self criticism is a good thing. Yes, we have more children to cope with in cars and also yes, we are often all in the biggest of rushes. We need to recognize this, slow down, be more courteous on the road (i.e. thnik of others) and deal with our children when we pull over! If we don’t set these standards of Menchlichkeit, who will? Thanks to Mr. Eidlitz for bringing this to our attention.

  8. The problem is most of the driving in this town might be as a result of these conditions but is still NO excuse.

    There is no excuse for:

    1 children riding in cars without proper car seats or seatbelts

    2. people racing down sunset at 60mph to make minyan

    3. people running red lights because they are in a rush

    4. passing on the shoulder to get around a car who is turning left. This is ILEGAL and is 2 points on your license, plus the risk of hitting a pedestrian, cyclist or car thats disabled on the shoulder

    5. Not coming to a FULL COMPLETE stop AT the stop sign

    6. Using a handheld phone while driving to talk or text

    7. Slamming on your breaks in the lane of travel to pickup a hitchhiker

    The list goes on and on, and although this articles EXPLAINS why people do these above things, there is NO excuse and this type of driving needs to stop right away.

  9. I don’t know how you can have an article about driving in Lakewood without mentioning hitchiking. the hitchikers stand dangerously close to the road and people just stop anywhere to pick them up.

  10. People feel that they do not have to follow the laws. Hashem will not always protect you. As drivers, we need to follow the laws for our safety and the safety of others.

  11. #16 … if our (Jews) driving is carless, reckless, sometimes thoughtless and often dangerous to others then own up and do something about it. Nothing “biggoted” about facing reality and doing Teshuva. WE should set those standards for others and creating a Kiddush Hashem!

  12. We can still do something about Items #2,4&6 but the planning board, builders and the town council refuse to do anything!
    As stated in Item #3 the streets were built in the 1950’s and the population density was less, fast forward to today we allow the streets to be the same size as 1950 and build 5 times the housing, then wonder why we can’t get out of our driveways. When is it going to STOP!! We need responsible building practices above profit….. guess that’s not going to happen.

  13. What I see again and again is that you want standards set when the shoe is on the other foot. What you all write about everyone else that is not of your beliefs is a SIN. It goes against everything that is taught no matter what religion you are. SO PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH! And while you’re at it…follow the rules on the road and drive safer. I was almost killed today, and all the person could say to me after throwing me on the side walk was; I didn’t see you, as he flew out of a parking lot on Lexington Ave. Point is, he didn’t even stop to look, he just flew out.

    YOU ARE NOT ABOVE THE LAW! DEAL WITH IT!!!

  14. slow down! calm down! pay attention! be courteous! a co-worker of mine had a great idea! all new cell phones have gps. why not disable the texting if the phone is moving. and if you have bluetooth or another hands free device the gps would let texting work.

  15. There just has to me more one way streets in parts of town, especially on 6th & 7th streets between Forest and Lakewood Avenue. The intersection on 7th and Forest is crazy sometimes with cars coming from all directions. A one way street would also allows cars to park on both sides of the street which would alleviate the yeshiva parking problem. 9th & 10th streets between Clifton and Lexington should also be one way. The roads were not built for the huge town that Lakewood now is. Without complaining about it, the town has to face reality and make changes. More traffic lights are also needed.

  16. to #15. It’s simple. how about an ordinance that when a policeman stops someone for speeding there should be a mandetory 10 to 15 min supervised time when the driver must drive around town doing 25-30 mph.Force him to take his time in addition to paying a fine. It’s called behavior modification. If the person from NY does not have a nervous breakdown, he/she will either learn to slow down, like a normal human being, or realize Lakewood is not for them. I for one am tired of seeing cars w/NY plates (and some NJ plates) passing school busses with red lights on. I also resent having to play dodge’em cars on the road. Perhaps a shaila should be asked of a posek weather or not we can call the police with a reckless driving complaint since this quite possibly could be a situation of pekuach nefesh.

  17. Article was too long. Just obey the traffic signals, and STOP at the stop signs. I am a Police Officer in town and many times witness drivers approaching Clifton or Lexington at a high rate of speed only to stop IN the intersection. This is the cause of many accidents. Why do you see so many accidents and overturned vehicles. Because people don’t stop at stop signs.

  18. The problem is too many people in the town, roads need to be expanded,also enforce the no talking on cell phone law, double and triple parking on the most narrow roads, make it impossible to drive safetly. If you live in Lakewood your car insurance is higher.too many schools in places where they dont need to be, schools do not belong in houses, day cares dont belong in house either. I know this town brings in alot of money from taxes as well, so why do the public school get shorted all the time, with not having programs to keep the kids active and off the streets. Where does all the money GO!!!!.
    we need the township to follow the guide lines for building homes. How do you put 27 condo , where 4 houses were? and 54 families live there? explain?

  19. Here’s a question,lets see if we could get an honest answer/why do you allow ur kids to be on a bus standing for the most part of the drive. Is there a law tht says they don’t have to sit when told to or is the ride better standing. last i heard it’s the law sit ur hind parts down,especially with all the bus accidents going on now

  20. Much of the driving conditions in Lakewood are stress related, coupled with inadequate infrastructure for the population. Heavy schedules are part of the NEED to get there as close to the appointed time as is possible.

    This observation is particularly directed to the major roadways. If you believe that US Rt. 9 is a serious safety hazard, I urge you to please help the Committee to Improve US Rt. 9.

    Improving the roadway is not the only improvement needed Lakewood. Infrastructure, driving habits, and common courtesy, mixed with a dose of driver training would also help.

  21. my last article did not make the cut so here goes agin:
    stop talking and texting whie driving. Stop at stop signs like your supposed too and make sure your children are in car seats not jumping all over the place

  22. Well hmmm if you take a look at most of the posts here they are quite similar to some of the things that we have been saying all along except when we say it we are full of hate. Well now that you are saying it maybe its not hate at all. Just simple truth………..

  23. A few roads widened to accomidate 2 lanes (ex. county line east & Rt 9.) would solve alot of problems.

    Another good idea would be for BMG to build a satelite campuses around town near major developments so people don’t have to make a gantza hacofes to get to/from the yeshiva.

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