WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Just over 150 pedestrians have been involved in accidents in the Port City between Jan. 23, 2016 and April 15, 2019, according to data provided by the Wilmington Police Department.
In 2019 alone, there were 15 pedestrian-related incidents in Wilmington from Jan. 1 to April 15.
Cpl. Adam Schwartzel with the WPD traffic unit identified the three most dangerous areas for pedestrians:
- the area around Walmart on Market Street
- the area around UNCW from Sam’s Club to Dick’s Sporting Goods
- Carolina Beach Road around Legion Stadium
According to WPD’s records, 31 of the pedestrian-involved incidents happened somewhere along Market Street; eight occurred on Carolina Beach Road; and six on South College Road.
“It’s a lot of foot traffic, major roads, and very few intersections that have crosswalks close by,” Schwartzel explained of the dangerous areas.
According to the documents, most of the accidents happen between the early evening to early morning hours.
“It’s pretty year round. When it gets really cold, they slow down a little bit but as long as it’s warm in the evening, we have pedestrian wrecks,” said Schwartzel, adding both pedestrians and drivers are in more of a rush than ever, often leading to accidents that could be prevented.
"If everybody was just a little patient - moved down to the intersection, moved down to the crosswalk, and drivers paid attention that there are people that are going to cross where they’re not supposed to. We all need to be diligent and make sure we’re looking out for them,” Schwartzel said.
Schwartzel said distracted driving is as main factor in many of the accidents, but not just texting and driving.
“It’s more than likely distraction. Not necessarily texting but any type of distraction. Putting on makeup in the car, trying to get dressed or change the radio station. Any type of distraction people don’t see the hazards in front of them,” he said.
Schwartzel advises pedestrians to always move to an intersection that has a crosswalk or traffic signal to safely cross the street.
“That’s always your safest bet. It guarantees you have the right of way. It doesn’t mean the drivers are going to stop but it guarantees you have the right of way. If you are crossing mid-block or not at an intersection traffic has the right of way, so you need to wait until it’s clear,” he said.
Additionally, the number of hit-and-run incidents has increased. Schwartzel reminds witnesses to get as much information about the car as possible, including the make, model and license plate if possible.
“...Direction of travel and description of the driver. And then always stay with the person. Don’t attempt to follow the vehicle. Always stay with the person or cyclist who was hit to make sure they’re okay,” Schwartzel said.