Members of the Fuquay-Varina Police Department are stepping up efforts to ensure motorists on area roadways stay safe as they establish a new traffic unit within the department.
According to Fuquay-Varina Public Information Officer Susan Weis, local motorist have seen an increase in the amount of traffic within town limits. During 2011, 825 accidents were reported within the Fuquay-Varina limits. This includes hit and run accidents and 100 accidents with injuries, Weis said.
During 2012, 901 accidents were reported in the town limits. This included 127 accidents with injuries as well as hit and runs, Weis said.
Fuquay-Varina Police Chief Larry Smith attributes the 9 percent traffic accident increase to the rise in population.
There have been traffic fatalities outside Fuquay-Varina’s limits, Weis said. However, none have been reported within town limits in the last several years.
“In 2012, there were no motor traffic accident or pedestrian deaths in the town limits,” Weis said. “In fact, the last motor vehicle/pedestrian death inside the town limits was in December 2010 with the fatality at Fuquay-Varina High School of student Jorge Chavarria.”
There are several things Smith said motorists can do to stay safe on the roadways.
“First and foremost, obey the speed limit. Most accidents involve speeding,” he said. “The risk of greater impact and injury increase when speeds increase, so slow down.
“The Town Board, in conjunction with NCDOT, has worked to lower speed limits in the Town of Fuquay-Varina,” Smith said.
Smith said motorists should pay close attention to lane changes, put down cell phones, practice patience and wear safety belts.
However, the new traffic enforcement unit will be a big help in keeping drivers safe. The Town of Fuquay-Varina was awarded a N.C. Governor’s Highway Safety Grant in the amount of $92,735 to fund the traffic unit, Weis said.
The grant funded one officer and requisite equipment. The Town Board provided additional funding to complete the two-officer unit, which became operational in late 2012. Officers Anthony Hodges and Ben Zucker are the two officers assigned to the unit.
“While all patrol vehicles are equipped and officers are trained to respond to traffic issues, the new traffic unit will pay particular attention to speeding and unsafe drivers to endeavor to reduce traffic crashes,” Weis said. “The unit will also pay special attention to traffic around local schools.
“As Fuquay-Varina takes part in the N.C. Governor’s Highway Safety program, citizens will see more speed enforcement, seat belt checks, DWI checkpoints and all officers will regularly be checking to make sure that drunk drivers are off the roads.”
Smith said this new traffic unit was something Fuquay-Varina residents wanted.
“We have more complaints about speeding and automobiles not yielding to pedestrians than we do complaints about traffic tickets,” Smith said. “Citizens want road safety.”