Accidents rise but city puts off asking for safety changes - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Accidents rise but city puts off asking for safety changes

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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

Otis Coffey has a name for his car.

"Like a horn, 'Toot Toot'," said Coffey.

Afterall it's been in the family a long time, about 30 years.

Unfortunately 'Toot Toot' has seen better days. The 1986 Buick, Coffey drives in everyday to Charlotte from Rock Hill, SC has a knocked in front end. It's the result of an accident, not of Coffey's making.

"It could have been worse because I tee'd him," said Coffey. "I went right in the side of him."

It happened on Westinghouse Boulevard just off I-77 in southern Mecklenburg County.

"This is a very bad intersection," said Mark Engel.

He would know. Engel sees just about all the wrecks. His business, Motorcycles of Charlotte, is right near the off ramp.

"I see almost one (accident) a day and a number of them where ambulances are involved," said Engel.

It is a busy area, a mix of businesses, truck traffic and cars just passing through. The problems mostly stem from drivers trying to make left hand turns.

"(A left turn) requires going across three lanes of traffic," said
Engel. "With all the trucks that are riding down Westinghouse, huge blind spots happen."

Engel would like to see signal light put in, stopping traffic so people can safely turn into businesses in the area.

WBTV took the concerns to the city and asked about the possibility of putting in a traffic light. The Charlotte Department of Transpiration's safety committee did a review.

Accidents have spiked at the intersection. There were four left turn accidents in 2011, three in 2012, but the number jumped to nine last year and there have been nine more in the first half of this year alone.

It doesn't take into account the near misses.

"We offer test drives for customers on motorcycles," said Engel. "And we won't do it between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. because it's too dangerous."

The city isn't convinced. C-DOT isn't recommending the state make any changes. A spokesperson said a majority of the crashes were property damage only. WBTV was also told the turn is likely too close to the I-77 ramp for a traffic light.

 Another option would be to block left hand turns in the area, but the city worries it would hurt the businesses.

 C-DOT says it will continue to monitor the area and if injuries increase they will re-visit the issue.

 You don't have to convince Coffey about the danger now..

"My head hit the windshield," said Coffey. "I think they need to do something."

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