Accidents and OUI Arrests A Danger on Main Street

Police arrested five drivers for operating a vehicle under the influence (OUI) this year, all within one mile of Phillips Academy. Because more than 1,000 students live near the busiest road in Andover, road safety on Main Street is an important area of concern. About three or four car collisions a year occur along the stretch of Phillips Academy’s main campus, according to Officer Robert Cronin, the Safety Officer of the Town of Andover. “[The number of collisions] isn’t really a lot when you consider the amount of cars going through that area, but one person hurt is one too many,” he said. On average, there are about 60 vehicle crashes a month in the Andover area, including property damage charges. Reckless driving has increased the risk of such collisions, especially when alcohol is involved. Although drunk drivers in Andover are not a huge problem, according to Officer Cronin, there are still a significant number of them. According to police logs dating from January to July 2007, 33 arrests were made in Andover that involved operating under the influence or having an open container of liquor in the vehicle. Nine of these arrests occurred within two miles of the Phillips Academy campus. Troopers stationed at the Andover state police barracks arrested 282 drivers for OUI from January to July. In total, troopers working north of Boston made 816 such arrests in the same time period. However, Officer Cronin said that he has seen fewer intoxicated drivers on the road compared to 10 years ago. He said, “I think that educational issues have gotten out there, the message is being spread…and penalties are much more severe.” Vehicle or pedestrian accidents are also a possibility, especially with the large amounts of students crossing streets in between classes. “There are extremely high volumes of traffic for at least half of the day, especially in the Phillips Academy area,” said Cronin. The Traffic Unit of the Andover Police Department, of which Cronin is a part, works to “increase the safety of pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists over the roadways of the Town of Andover,” as stated on the police department’s website. This unit often works with Phillips Academy Public Safety (PAPS) officers in order to enforce road safety in the campus area. Cronin also reported that Phillips Academy day students have not recently committed any major offenses regarding road rules. “Occasionally, I’ll run into a student who might be driving fast, but there hasn’t been anything egregious,” he said. However, if such an incident should occur, Cronin said that the student would not be shown more leniency than any other person. Unless the offense is greatly relevant, the police do not contact the student’s school. To improve safety measures, the Andover police have worked with both Phillips Academy and the state of Massachusetts. They installed 25 mile per hour speed-limit street signs and flashing lights for pedestrian crossings, in addition to reducing the number of car lanes in each direction. “Plans to reinforce safety are always ongoing,” said Officer Cronin. Future plans include installing a radar trailer to measure the speed of passing cars as a means of enforcing the speed limit.