TPD reports fewer crashes in 2012

traffic fatalities dropped from six to two
Jan. 28, 2013 @ 12:46 PM

Crashes involving Chair City motorists declined in 2012.
Patrol officers with Thomasville Police Department's traffic enforcement division responded to 962 crashes last year compared to 994 in 2011, marking a 3 percent decline, according to Sgt. John Elgin. The number of traffic fatalities dropped from six in 2011 to just two last year.
"Our long term projected goal is to have our fatality rate at zero," Elgin said. "Is it a reachable goal? I don't know but we're going to try 110 percent every day."
Contributing factors in Chair City crashes included speeding, failure to yield the right-of-way, defective equipment and drivers not paying attention. Elgin said speed played a role in a number of wrecks and remains one of the key focal points of TPD's traffic enforcement division.    
"A lot of people ask why we're out here writing all these tickets and it's because a lot of wrecks are speed related," said Elgin. "That's why we're so keen on enforcing the speed limit because speed kills. We know that from personal investigations into crashes."
Elgin credits the 3 percent crash reduction to high visibility patrols and low manpower checkpoints. TPD is in the middle of an education piece designed to analyze and research data in an effort to identify target areas within the community where a large number of accidents occur. Elgin it will take another year to know if the plan is working as officers continue educating the public on the importance of wearing seatbelts, keeping children in child restraints and abiding speed limits. 
"We really started getting into the examination of how many wrecks we had," Elgin said. "there's a variety of things to look at. We do a lot of education and that's real important for the motoring public to understand. We want to reach out to them."
One area of concern is the intersection at Liberty Drive and N.C. Highway 109 south. Elgin said the intersection experiences a large number of accidents due to drivers not yielding the right-of-way or failing to stop at traffic lights. TPD practices what Elgin referred to as "predictive policing" where targeted areas are addressed with increased manpower.
"We do a continuous plan each month where we make recommendations based on the previous month," said Elgin. "You never know where crimes are going to happen, but based upon data and statistics, you put your people out there. It really works out and we've had success doing it so far."
Thomasville experienced a 100 percent reduction in impairment wrecks in 2012. Four of Thomasvile's six fatalities in 2011 were impairment related, but none involved alcohol or drugs last year. 
"The whole agency is doing their part to help reduce crashes and impaired drivers on the roadways," Elgin said. "Unfortunately, fatalities are still tragic but at least we don't have the factor of drugs or alcohol involved."


Staff Writer Eliot Duke can be reached at 888-3578, or duke@tvilletimes.com.