Your Turn: Suggestions and solutions to driving dangers - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Your Turn: Suggestions and solutions to driving dangers

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There are few topics that get people talking more than driving.  Everyone has to deal with it and it seems everyone has an opinion on it.  Recently I pointed out how once again the Cape Fear area made the "bad list" for driving dangers.  And I asked you for suggestions and solutions.

I heard from a lot of you by phone and email.  Some of it was stereotypical and not suitable for sharing.

But Jess Martin pointed out something I heard from a lot of people -- lack of enforcement.  Jess says:

The number one thing that will help traffic woes in Wilmington is enforcement. I have lived in the area for two years and have rarely seen County or City Police engaged in a traffic stop.

Ryan Bowman agreed on enforcement, but he'd like to see it for speeders and slow pokes alike.  Ryan says: 

People will pull out in front of me, in say a 45 mph zone and then they will not accelerate past 30.

In my unscientific survey enforcement was clearly number one, with mopeds and scooters ranked second.  And I agree with both.  I really believe we need a culture of enforcement. Offenders need to know if they break the law, no matter how picky they think police are being, they will get pulled over.

That's your turn, and a bit of my turn.  To comment on this segment, or anything else, email me at yourturn@wect.com.


Emailed comments from viewers:

On the subject of traffic I would like to suggest that just before the beginning of the school year, or after a long break like the holidays, to advise the public of the rules and importance of stopping for stopped school buses.  It could be presented as a safety concern for children, community service, etc…   My daily observations on the NC highways and streets are many people do not know or are confused about the rules for passing a stopped school bus.   They seem to be mostly confused about the rule when there is a divided highway or four lanes with a turn lane in the center making it five lanes, like Carolina Beach Rd, and College Rd.   

In addition to advising the public if WECT could set up a link to the NC Driver License manual on their website so the public could access the rules for stopping for a stopped school bus I believe this would be a benefit too.  It might even encourage folks to skim through the Driver License manual for other traffic laws or rules they might be confused about. 

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Thanks for what you do.  I am in favor of reducing the amount of shared left/center turn lanes on major roads.  For example, Market Street from Eastwood to I-140 and also Oleander from College to Mayfaire.  These lanes allow a free-for-all of turning movements, including left turns across multiple lanes, merging, deceleration, and acceleration, with all said movements being perfectly legal.  Instead, we need more center medians, with lights placed strategically for U-turns.  Although some businesses do not like this solution, people adjust, and end up liking it better, due to safety.  Thanks for inviting my opinion.

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Well, Gary.....you're pretty well known in our area. Just hoping our local law enforcement doesn't catch you doing any tiny infraction..... They may just want to prove to you they are indeed trying hard to do a good job! We indeed have lots of Goofballs, licensed and not, driving around here. I've been here 36 years, and I was stunned by the red light runners 36 years ago and it remains such, sadly. I believe our officers do the best they can..... If they were handing out mega citations, I can hear the uproar and media chastisement!

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I have been a driver in Wilmington for many years now.  They complain about everything from cell phone usage(in which I agree with) to fast drivers, mopeds etc.  This year I have been so annoyed by all the political signs put right at the highways to attract your attention.  Near Murraysville Road just the other day, I counted seven signs for one candidate one right after the other for just one candidate.

I feel if people want to be consistent in enforcement then those signs of the running candidates are the most bothersome to me and cause a lot of attention to the drivers.  They should only be able to put them in peoples yards with permission or at the Elections Office, not one thousand all over the place.  This would help as much as cell phone usage or other complaints.

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Every time I see a track stop in Wilmington or New Hanover there ALWAYS are at least 2-3 police cars, if it takes 2 police that why don't they just put 2 officers in ever car?  I saw 3 patrol cars the other day stopped a 85 year old grandmother???  

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I appreciated your editorial tonight about Wilmington's poor driving record and the fact that you incorporated viewer feedback.  It's not just the tourists, it seems--it's all of us.

But I don't think the solution is more enforcement.  If you and others are suggesting we don't have enough traffic officers on duty, we'll never have enough to police every intersection.

If the suggestion is that officers turn a blind eye to violations, that's not been my experience.  Except for allowing drivers to go a few miles above speed limits, I've found that police enforce violations when they see them.  After more than fifty years of driving with no moving violations, I was stopped twice last year in the space of five minutes--once by an officer who cited me for not having a current license plate registration sticker, then by another office for not stopping at a stop sign.  When I protested that I had stopped at the same time the car ahead of me stopped, the officer told me that I needed to stop again when I was the first car at the stop sign.  I immediately saw the logic of needing to stop a second time (or a sixth time if there had been five cars ahead of me), bu,t when I told this story to a friend, she said she would never have thought to make a second stop at the stop sign.

The problem, it seems, is that even experienced drivers don't always know how to drive.

Since moving to Wilmington some fifteen years ago, I've noticed how few drivers know how to make a left or right turn.  Drivers in the far left lane of a multi-lane intersection. for example, will make a left turn into the middle or even right lane of the adjoining street instead of into the far left lane of that street. I learned my lesson on this poin the hard way--by flunking my first driving test.  This was back in the days before drivers ed in high school when you learned how to drive from your parents.  My father, who prided himself on his driving ability, asked the police officer why he had failed me.  When the officer said I had made a left turn into the far right lane, the expression on my father's face told me that he didn't know there was anything wrong with that.

There's a simple and inexpensive way to teach drivers how to make a turn.  At many multi-lane intersections, the city has placed like white blocks in the pavement to keep turning drivers in the proper lane.  Unfortunately these white guidelines are not at the busiest intersections, such as the one at Randall Parkway and College Road. Drivers leaving the UNCW campus to turn left and head south on College Road swing into the far right lane, dangerously coming close to colliding with cars coming from the opposite direction on Randall who want to turn right and head south on College Road.

Ironically, at the next stoplight north of this Randall-College intersection--between the two shopping malls--there are white-block guidelines to keep drivers in their proper lanes--even though it is a far less busy intersection.

Installing more of these white-block lane guidelines at busy intersections would avert accidents and help teah people how to make turns at less busy intersections.  It's an easier and cheaper improvement than increasing police enforcement or than installing more automatic photo-enforcement cameras at intersections such as that at Market Street and 17th, though such cameras also help "teach" drivers not to run redlights and thus avert really serious accidents.  They pay for their installation in automatic traffic fines and by the time drivers have learned that lesson, the maintenance cost is minimal.

Thank you for the opportunity to respond to your editorial.

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