Canterbury gets new traffic sign after crash outside school

The town of Canterbury has gotten new traffic safety signs on Route 14 in front of the Dr. Helen Baldwin Middle School, after a mother driving to pick up her children was seriously injured in an accident last year.

“I’m hoping that this will make people more aware, slow down, pay more attention, and we’ll see,” said First Selectman Chris Lippke, who pushed for state approval for the new sign. “Hopefully, it works out.”

The town held a ribbon-cutting for the sign on Feb. 20.

The official speed limit on Route 14 is 45 miles per hour, but the average speed is about 55 miles, according to a state traffic study, Lippke said. The traffic sign has flashing lights that alert drivers to a lower speed limit of 35 during school drop-off and pick-up times.

“Our first priority is the safety of our students, family, and community. The lights will go a long way towards ensuring that traffic in front of Baldwin is safer,” Garrett Dukette, the principal at the middle school, told the Bulletin.

Lippke had to campaign for the state to approve the sign. In order to get it, the town had to agree to pay for the sign, including its installation and maintenance. Lippke estimates that it cost the town about $12,000.

“Twelve thousand dollars is a big amount of money for a small town, that’s for sure,” Lippke said.

The impetus for the sign was a serious accident that occurred last year. A mother driving to pick up her children was rear-ended, causing her car to veer into the opposite lane, where she had a head-on collision. The women survived but was seriously injured and had to undergo a long rehabilitation. The family has since moved out of Canterbury, according to Lippke.

Lippke said the town’s residents seem pleased with the effort to improve traffic safety at the middle school. “After the accident we did what we could to try to keep people safe on that road,” he said.

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