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Saturday June 12th

Chapel Hill police remind drivers to be vigilant following increased accidents

<p>File: Rosemary Street in Chapel Hill</p>
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File: Rosemary Street in Chapel Hill

The Chapel Hill Police Department responded to numerous traffic accidents Thursday, according to the Chapel Hill Police Twitter. 

At least four car accidents took place in Chapel Hill by mid-afternoon on May 23, one of which took place on Seawell School Road, Chapel Hill Police Department’s community safety communications specialist Ran Northam said.

One person involved in an accident was transported to the hospital for injuries, but they were not believed to be life threatening, Northam said.

Another accident involved three motor vehicles at the intersection of Perkins Drive and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and did not involve any serious injuries. 

None of the accidents were located near construction sites, according to Northam.

Most of the accidents took place between 3 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Two of these happened near each other, one at 4:15 p.m. and the other at 4:30 p.m., according to Northam.

Although no one in Thursday’s accidents were found to be without their seatbelts, Northam emphasized how important wearing a seatbelt is to vehicle safety. 

“We are encouraging everyone to wear their seatbelt," Northam said. "Of course, it is state law to do so but certainly want to get the message out there."

Carrboro had normal traffic on Thursday, Carrboro Police Department’s Capt. Chris Atack said, though he did mention that there was a funeral procession on U.S. 15-501 for former Orange County Sheriff Albert "Lindy" Pendergrass that day. 

Atack also said Carrboro does not tend to see an increase in traffic problems during holidays such as Memorial Day, which he attributed to not having interstates or major roads within the town. 

“In general, it's pretty average throughout the year,” Atack said.

The number one tip for driver, bicyclist and pedestrian safety, according to Atack, is to put any distractions away and focus on what you are doing. His second tip was to slow down, especially in Carrboro and downtown Chapel Hill, where there are many pedestrians in close quarters. Being courteous is a way to significantly reduce traffic problems, according to Atack. 

“We all need to be mindful of each other," Atack said. "Just slow down and take your time, be patient, and just operate your vehicle safely. You need to be tuned into what you’re doing and not distracted by anything else.” 

If you do get into an accident, it is recommended that you call 911 and wait for the police to arrive. It is especially important to call for an ambulance if someone is seriously injured, Fran Muse, attorney and director of Carolina Student Legal Services, said. 

People who get into accidents should always take pictures of the damage to their car and the other drivers’ involved cars, as well as obtain a police report to prevent themselves from having to pay for more damage than they caused or to prevent someone from denying that the accident happened, Muse said.

She also said that you should get the name and number of any witnesses of the accident. This is because police officers who respond to the accident likely did not witness it and create their report based on their observations and the perspectives of the drivers. 

“One thing to note is that when the police officer arrives. he was not a witness to the accident, so when he prepares his report, he’s basing that on what you and the other driver tell him and his observations at the scene; he didn’t actually see the accident,” said Muse. “And sometimes it might be hard for the officer to tell who caused the accident. One person says one thing and the other says something else. It can be really important to get the names and numbers of witnesses who actually saw the accident.”

Muse said that if issued a citation because of an accident, you should not pay it because it could be dismissed in court. 

Carolina Student Legal Services encourages students who have been issued traffic tickets or have been in a car accident to come to their office to talk about their options, Muse said.

The Governor’s Highway Safety Program is currently in the middle of their Click It or Ticket program, Northam said. 

Click It or Ticket is a campaign run by the Governor’s Highway Safety Program to increase the use of seatbelts and child safety seats in North Carolina, according to the North Carolina Department of Transportation website. During this campaign, law enforcement increases their patrol numbers and sets up checking stations to make sure people are obeying seatbelt laws. 

Violators of these laws are fined $179, or $263 if there is a passenger under the age of 15 who is not properly restrained, the NCDOT said.

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