SWANSBORO, N.C. (WNCT) – Along Queens Creek Road, across from Swansboro High School, a traffic light was installed by the North Carolina Department of Transportation back in April. One father believes more should be done.
Matthew Miles got the phone call Wednesday that no parent wants to get. His daughter Halle, a sophomore at Swansboro High School had gotten into a car accident.
“As she was proceeding through that new light, the other vehicle, who had a flashing yellow yield signal, didn’t see her, or at least that’s my understanding, and accelerated trying to turn into the school,” said Miles.
Luckily, both drivers were okay, but both he and his daughter believe the incident could have been prevented.
“I brought this issue up after the light was installed prior to the school year,” added Miles. “They understood and acknowledged that it is an ongoing issue that needs to be addressed.”
One suggestion the family has is more traffic control from law enforcement.
“I think just maybe an officer out there more in the morning could help,” said Halle.
With three schools in a half-mile stretch, they believe moving one further away would clear some of that congestion.
“One idea was to build a new high school further down towards Jacksonville, off of NC 24 and maybe relocate the middle school to the existing high school,” said Miles. “That would provide a number of opportunities to improve the intersection at NC 24 and Queens Creek.”
NCDOT provided a safety evaluation report for the intersection of NC 24 and Queens Creek Road. Between 2018 and 2022, there were 40 crashes reported.
Last month, a 5-year crash analysis report was completed for NC-24 from Queens Creek Road to 1300 West of that intersection. Between 2018 and 2023, there were 125 total crashes reported to NCDOT.
They added that they would review the concern to see if any modifications for the flashing yellow arrow are needed.
Along with the light at the high school being a new addition, Onslow County Schools and NCDOT also added a second entrance to get in and out. Miles thinks another could be added.
“There’s some ways to creatively place some other points of entry to alleviate the stress in that particular intersection,” he said.
Both Matthew and Halle hope changes will be made to prevent future accidents.
“Nobody should have to get that call, and God forbid, someone get the call that their child was killed or severely injured in a wreck,” said Matthew.
OCS provided WNCT with a statement about the road concerns along Queens Creek Road.
“Safety on Queens Creek Road is definitely a concern of the district and has been the focus of long-term discussions between OCS, NCDOT, and the Town of Swansboro. At the beginning of the 2022-2023 school year, we worked with NCDOT to develop a plan for closing the main access gates to Swansboro High School during arrival and dismissal. A new process was developed which allowed entry at the second gate to the school during these times and included a new traffic pattern through the high school parking lot to ease congestion on Queens Creek Road.
“Building on these changes, OCS worked with NCDOT to install a new traffic light at the second entrance to the school. This has resulted in easier turns into and out of the school onto Queens Creek Road – especially during morning arrival and afternoon dismissal.
“The district’s implementation of standardized bell times at the beginning of this school year has staggered arrival times at the schools in the Swansboro area and across the district. OCS high schools begin at 7:00 a.m., while our elementary schools do not take in until 8:30 a.m. This change was put in place to address the shortage of bus drivers but has had a secondary impact of reducing the traffic coming into the school areas at the same time.
“We appreciate the long-term work we have done with the NCDOT and Town of Swansboro to address traffic issues on Queens Creek Road and the district is always looking at how we can improve our processes and procedures. However, it also takes a commitment from those in our community to be more cautious when driving in high-traffic areas around our schools.”