The intersection at Bristol-Oxford Valley and North Oxford Valley roads – once home to an Arby’s and Fuddruckers, and now home to a super Wawa – has garnered attention from residents and law enforcement officers numerous times over the years.
The intersection, which allows one lane of traffic to continue to turn onto Oxford Valley Road, while making those who wish to continue on Bristol-Oxford Valley Road wait at a stop sign, has been prime real estate for tickets and accidents over the years.
With traffic so heavy in the area, waiting at a stop sign to cross the busy roadway and caused drivers to completely modify the rules of stop signs and safe practices for the intersection.
“People have developed some very bad habits regarding the traffic control devices at that intersection. Treating a stop sign as if it were a yield sign is playing Russian roulette – its only a matter of time before someone who does that causes a car crash,” said Lt. Nelson Whitney, a veteran member of the Falls Township Police Department.
The department has made it a mission of theirs, following numerous accidents and complaints surrounding the area, to beef up patrol at the intersection. Over a three and a half week span, Whitney noted the department wrote 33 tickets to drivers who rolled the stop sign. The catch? Each driver did it in front of a marked patrol car.
“We were hoping that the presence of the patrol car would motivate people to obey the traffic control devices there. Some did, but many people continued to treat the stop sign like a yield sign or fail to yield to traffic that has the right of way after stopping,” said Whitney.
According to Whitney, the effort to ensure safe driving is not about revenue. According to him, the department only rakes in $12.50 per stop sign ticket.
“These stop signs wouldn’t pay for the tires on the police car driven to pull the motorists over,” he said. “This is an effort to modify people’s driving behavior to keep them safe by cutting down on traffic incidents.”
Whitney outlined that there are two duties when it comes to a stop sign within the state. The first is to come to a complete stop. The second duty is to yield to traffic that has the right of way (like the traffic turning left onto South Oxford Valley Road). Failure to do either is a violation of 75 Pa. C.S. 3323(b) Stop signs and yield signs. The total fine is $128.50 and it carries 3 points to be assigned to the driver’s PA DL.
According to officials, since January of 2010, the township has dealt with 7,525 traffic accidents with 19 fatalities. To try to decrease this number, the township, specifically Lt. Hank Ward, has been conducting a ‘Drive Safe’ grant funded program for several years.
“The intersection is notoriously bad and has been on the back burner with PennDOT to be redesigned for 20 years. We have had 134 traffic accidents there since Jan 2010. Since mid August, I have had a marked patrol car sit on the painted island right next to the stop sign,” said Whitney. “Falls Township is working with State Representative John Galloway’s office and has asked PennDOT to add additional traffic control devices to the intersection (such as stop lines on the street and flashing lights on the stop sign).”
There has been no word from PennDOT as to the status of the project.
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