At the Rotary, a Failure to Yield
Police have responded to 11 crashes there over the past nine months, which is consistent with recent years.
Last Sunday’s accident in which one driver, police say, “failed to yield” to a vehicle in the rotary was typical of those crashes, Gordon said.
Drivers—often those unfamiliar with the rotary—don’t acknowledge that under Massachusetts law, traffic within the rotary has the right of way, he said.
Sunday’s crash involved a resident of Sunderland who “was coming west on East Main Street and went through the yield sign and hit the vehicle that was within the rotary broadside,” he said. The sign is for “the people coming up East Main Street, which is going west on East Main Street,” he noted.
“We can talk, and say, ‘Observe the rules of the road.’ To the people who live locally, they understand that. It’s the ones that from out of town that probably drive through here once. They just don’t realize their surroundings,” he said.
“That’s what the problem is. It’s like us traveling out to the western part of the state. If we go into someplace we don’t know out there, you may do something that normally on a daily basis you wouldn’t do here because you’re used to your surroundings. But you go out there, it’s a different area. The rules of the road are exactly the same, but it’s a different location.”
“We’ve had vehicles flip over there. We’ve had a couple in the last couple years that have been pretty serious as far as the way the vehicles collide and where they end up. It’s almost all from yielding,” he added.
Drivers within the rotary have a responsibility as well, Gordon noted.
They should “make eye contact with the other driver,” he said.
“People also have to remember: When you’re in the rotary downtown, if you’re going around the rotary and you’re going to go up Milk Street, you have the right of way. But, you have to be defensive. Don’t just think, ‘I have the right of way, so I can just blow through here. You have to look at the vehicles that are coming up.,” Gordon said.
“I’ve seen numerous times where I’ve gone right through there, and people blow right through it. We pull them over. We give them citations for doing it. I, personally, have pulled people over that have blown right through. But, if I was just thinking, ‘I have the right of way,’ I would’ve been hit myself. It happens probably every day, people blow through there.”
Some people have suggested putting a larger sign at the rotary, Gordon said.
It’s not an option.
“These signs are regulated by the Mass. Department of Transportation on what size they can be,” he explained.
“Anything bigger than that, it could impact the sight for people that are coming up that may not be able to see vehicles that are coming around the rotary.”
The total of 11 accidents over the past nine months is “pretty consistent” with recent years, Gordon said.
Most of the crashes are “T-bone accidents, which is a vehicle hits the side of a car,” he said.
And they typically don’t result in serious injuries, “because these are not high-speed accidents,” he said. The rotary is a 30 mph zone.
“It’s one of the busier accident locations but obviously not the busiest,” Gordon said.