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Merrimack Valley

January 15, 2012

Accident alley: Route 114 turns from rural to deadly

Route 114 turns from rural to deadly

NORTH ANDOVER — John Hagerty has a routine every time he inches his car out of his driveway onto Route 114.

"Every time I pull out with my car, I'm a little bit more religious, so I say a little prayer," said Hagerty, 80, of 1874 Turnpike St.

He has reason to be worried. Increased development along North Andover's seven-mile stretch of the mostly two-lane road has caused a steady stream of crashes.

Crashes on Route 114 have kept the North Andover Police Department's Accident Reconstruction Team busy.

Of the seven reconstructions the team did in 2011, five of the accidents were on Route 114. Two of them were fatals.

"There's more traffic on that road," said Det. Daniel Cronin. "There's more people talking on their phones. There's more texting."

But Cronin pointed out that the road itself is not dangerous.

"I don't think it's an unsafe place for people to be," Cronin said. "I think they just need to be more aware."

Sgt. Daniel Crevier, who leads the team, said being more aware means putting cellphones away, curbing dangerous driving, and ending other bad habits. Route 114, which Crevier said gets about 40,000 cars per day, is not forgiving to distracted drivers.

"There's so much traffic out there that you're bound to run into an accident if you're doing that type of stuff," Crevier said.

North Andover police Chief Paul Gallagher started and supervised the team in September 2008 so that North Andover could handle accident investigations more efficiently — rather than relying on county and state teams that have a larger workload. The slower investigations took a toll on victim's families.

"We have to deal with the families," Gallagher said. "The families were getting frustrated, and I had to talk to them or someone else had to talk them."

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