What’s causing the fatal crashes in the Eastway Drive area of Charlotte?

Concerns over Eastway Drive traffic deaths

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - People in east Charlotte say they know if they’re about to get on Eastway Drive, they need to pay extra attention. Drivers and pedestrians say the issues vary.

“Very dangerous. They need to actually lower the speed limit,” one woman told WBTV. “People not paying attention. They’re on the phones texting and have to be doing at least 65-70 mph.”

“Just really, really busy. A lot of traffic,” said a man who was crossing Eastway near Central Avenue. “If you cross at the light you should be fairly good.”

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police say so far this year there have been three fatal crashes on Eastway Drive.

And, in the general area of Eastway, Central, Shamrock, and The Plaza – police have investigated 11 traffic deaths to date.

“That area of town – Eastway Drive, Central Avenue, Plaza, Shamrock – there have been historical problems there for various reasons,” said Sgt Jesse Wood. “It’s not always a common thread for the reason for the fatalities in that area. That is an area of concern.”

This section of Charlotte has a lot of street front businesses.

Police say sometimes drivers suddenly pull out into heavy traffic and other drivers aren't paying complete attention to the road.

Police say some pedestrians wearing dark clothing at night are

“We’ve done pedestrian safety - called Watch For Me campaign where we try to interact with the public about crossing the road safely” said Sgt Wood.

Another problem is speeding.

Sgt Wood says the department is looking to see if technology can help them.

“One of the things we’re looking at as far as technology is ways we can warn the public about their speed as well as collecting data about the average vehicle speeds in the area,” Sgt Wood said. “So that we can see if there’s a speeding problem, when is the speeding spiking? and when is it best to deploy our officers out there?"

A spokesperson for Charlotte’s Department of Transportation told WBTV that “Eastway Drive is a state-maintained road and NCDOT is initiating a speed limit evaluation.”

Issue number three in Eastway Drive area: impaired drivers.

Police say that's why their DWI task force comes out.

Transportation officials say “In the most recent severe crashes on Eastway Drive, speeding and driving while impaired were the leading contributing circumstances that caused fatal outcomes. Through our Vision Zero initiative, we are working very closely with CMPD, NCDOT and other partners to identify opportunities to implement engineering, education and enforcement strategies that will eliminate all fatal and serious injury crashes by 2030.”

Police say drivers have to take responsibility in trying to help solve the problems in the Eastway Drive area.

“We need the public to get on-board with us to help us because we can’t always write tickets to solve a problem,” says Sgt Wood. “Tickets have their place and we’re able to have an affect there but we need the public to get on-board with us and recognize that is a potentially dangerous area for a multitude of reasons.”

“If people would comply with the law and look out for their safety not just what’s convenient – then I think we could have a much safer environment.”

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