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Editorial: Crash data underline road hazards

010517Ed_Crashes

A 52-year-old woman was struck and killed by a car on Stantonsburg Road Sunday east of Vidant Medical Center.

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Thursday, January 5, 2017

Greenville could not get past its first day of the new year before a car crash killed someone on one of our city streets. It could not get past the first week of the new year until another person was killed.

Sunday’s wreck involved a pedestrian who was struck and killed about 9 p.m. in the 1900 block of Stantonsburg Road near Vidant Medical Center. Mary Price, 52, was trying to reach the north side of the road when she was hit by a car in the eastbound lanes. She is the second pedestrian killed in the area since 2013.

Monday’s wreck occurred about 7:45 p.m. in front of the Quality Inn at 821 S. Memorial Drive. A driver exiting a business was trying to cross five lanes of traffic when his car collided with a northbound vehicle and killed Meta Bridgett Gilliam, 51.

The incidents come only a month after a Dec. 3 wreck on Arlington Boulevard near Heart Drive killed La'Osha Hopkins, 25, of Greenville after the car she was in crossed into oncoming traffic and collided with a SUV.

Hopkins was among at least 21 people killed in wrecks in Pitt County in 2016, according to records tallied by The Daily Reflector. Four of those killed were pedestrians like Price. Twenty-seven people were killed in 2015, according the Reflector’s count, when nine of those killed were pedestrians.

A look at records subsequently released by the N.C. Department of Transportation indicates that the Reflector’s 2015 count was low. The 2015 Traffic Crash Facts report says 32 people were killed, at least a five-year high. A report for 2016 has not been completed.

The DOT recorded 5,426 crashes total in 2015 in Pitt County. Those crashes resulted in 2,686 injuries and an average annual cost of $467 million. The county ranked No. 1 in the state for number of crashes per 100 miles traveled and No. 1 for injuries per 100 miles traveled. It ranked 37 out of 100 counties for deaths per miles traveled. The DOT says a wreck happens here every 1.3 hours and an injury every 3.7 hours.

The sound of sirens blaring from fire trucks and ambulances is all too familiar on Greenville roads. Parents hear them and worry for the safety of their children, husbands and wives worry about their spouses. DOT numbers for Greenville alone show 13,683 crashes between January 2013 and December 2015. Of those, 3,110 involved injuries and 17 people were killed. The city ranked No. 3 for crashes of all North Carolina cities with a population of 10,000 or more in 2015.

City, state and county leaders have made strides to address traffic safety including major enhancements coming to East 10th Street that include pedestrian safety measures and a median to limit dangerous crossings and left-hand turns. More of this is needed. Perhaps Memorial Drive and Stantonsburg Road should be next.

Such measures should be bolstered in all new projects coming to the area, including the widening projects on Fire Tower Road, Portertown Road and Evans Street and the new 10th Street Connector. Slower speed limits also should be enforced and red-light cameras should be installed as promised.

The Greenville City Council last summer made funds available to hire a few more police officers. Perhaps even more are needed to penalize speeders and careless and reckless drivers. Perhaps more state troopers and sheriff’s deputies should be utilized on the outskirts of town.

We also need to lower the number of drivers on the road by providing more alternatives to single-driver vehicles. And, most of all, drivers need to slow down, be alert and be careful.

The numbers don’t lie. Let’s bring them down in 2017.

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