Are deadly car crashes increasing in Western New York?

CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WIVB) — There’s a troubling trend developing in Western New York over the last few weeks. There have been several serious car crashes, many involving pedestrians, and many of them, deadly.

In Cheektowaga, there were three serious crashes in the last week and two were fatal. This trend is impacting other communities across the region and several of the main thoroughfares.

“A lot of nice weather usually people will walk more, ride bicycles, use motorcycles on a day like today being 70 degrees,” Trooper James O’Callaghan, public information officer for New York State Police Troop A, said.

In the last week in Erie County, there have been four fatal crashes. A Lockport woman died on Transit Road in Cheektowaga after getting hit by a drunk driver. A Hamburg daycare teacher died on her way to work on Rt. 5 and Lakeview Road. A man died Friday after stepping off the curb on Walden Avenue near the Thruway overpass. In southern Erie County, a Boston man died on Springville-Boston Road after being hit by a truck there.

A pedestrian was also hit near the Buffalo Airport last week and was treated for serious injuries.

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We are still months away from the summer when younger drivers hit the roads.

“This has been one of the warmer winters, so you’re going to have more people outside, you’re going to have more people in their cars, you’re going to have more people walking around. When you have that happens it’s similar to say Highmark Stadium. You’ve got a lot of people in a congested area. There’s a lot of distractions and unfortunately accidents occur,” Lt. Jeremy Lehning, public information officer for the Erie County Sheriff’s Office, said.

Buffalo seems to be part of a nationwide trend. The Governors Highway Safety Association says dangerous driving and inadequate infrastructure pose a deadly threat to pedestrians.

“Most of these collisions are happening at nighttime, so with that being a factor, you have to understand, cars aren’t looking for people this time of year and if you’re walking or running in front of a vehicle with its headlights on they may not see you until the last second,” Trooper O’Callaghan said.

Pedestrian fatalities have gone up by 14 percent since 2019, according to the GHSA.

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“Wear reflective clothing. Pay attention to the vehicles. Pay attention to when you are crossing streets. Pay attention to turning vehicles. Just because you can the vehicle does not mean that vehicle can see you and you have to know that,” Lt. Lehning said.

Earlier this year, a man was struck and killed while brushing snow off his car in his driveway along Losson Rd. in Cheektowaga, and police just made an arrest in that case.

There have been other serious vehicle incidents in Cheektowaga this year, including an 81-year-old woman who died after crashing into a tree, and a 21-year-old woman who fell out of the rear window of an Uber on Rt. 33. Her death was deemed an accident.

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Tara Lynch is a Buffalo native and Emmy-nominated reporter who joined the News 4 team in 2022. She previously worked at WETM in Elmira, N.Y., a sister station of News 4. You can follow Tara on Facebook and Twitter and find more of her work here.

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