Online Originals: Greenville drops out of #1 spot for crashes in NC, lands at #5

Online Originals

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) The Greenville Police Department’s (GPD) Traffic Safety Task Force has been working diligently to reduce the number of vehicle crashes and injuries related to vehicle crashes.

Greenville was consistently ranked #1 in the state for crashes.

Now, they’ve dropped to #5.

Chief Mark Holtzman of GPD and other members of the task force including Chiefs of Police for ECU and Vidant, the city’s engineer, Richard DiCesare, and NCDOT shared some statistics and the efforts that were made to decrease the number of crashes.

The team focused on three ‘E’s’: education, enforcement, and engineering with a focus on enforcement and engineering.

When Greenville was in the #1 spot, there were 400 crashes per month.

“When you start thinking about that average of two cars running into each other at that time, that’s 800+ cars crashing into each other in the city every month,” said Chief Holtzman.

The numbers have dropped to around 350 crashes per month and in the past year, the city has seen around 500 fewer crashes than in the previous year.

“We’ve seen a drop in hundreds of injuries. We’ve also seen our fatalities are down and one number I like the most are pedestrian numbers which are down 16,” said Chief Holtzman.

The numbers for the red light camera program are still being updated for this year, but previously, the city has seen a 27% reduction in crashes near red light camera intersections and only 4% of people who get a red light ticket get a second one.

“So we’re really about changing the behavior,” said Cheif Holtzman.

There are about 7,000 street lights in the community and with the help of the Greenville Utilities Commission, 4,00o of the lights have been switched to LED.

200 new street lights have been added to the downtown area.

They’re adaptive and change brightness throughout the evening.

A number of crosswalks have also been installed throughout the city to increase pedestrian safety.

A notable addition is a crosswalk at the bottom of Ficklen Drive near Dowdy Ficklen stadium.

Chief Holtzman says the largest crosswalk project to date is in the works at River Bluff Road (now called Harbor Point) and 10th street.

“This is going to be a double crosswalk with a whole lot of what they call center delineators,” said the Chief.

Center delineators are the plastic white and yellow poles that prevent you from turning left.

These have been a key part of improving traffic safety in Greenville.

“The first one we put in at Arlington and Smythwick right near the Walmart, the year before we put that in we had 22 crashes at that location for people turning left coming out. One of them was a fatality. The year following that we had two minor crashes,” said Chief Holtzman.

Eventually, proper restrictive medians will be put in place in certain locations.

These projects have also enhanced the safety of ECU students and patients and visitors at Vidant Medical Center.

According to the city’s engineer, Richard DiCesare, a safety fund was developed to put money towards these improvements.

Because of the efforts of the task force, the team received an award from the Governor’s Highway Safety Program.

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