Drivers need more time to adjust to new stop sign at intersection
Although there have been two “fender bender” type vehicle accidents at the intersection of Antioch Church and Beulah Church Roads since the recent implementation of an all-way stop, the group in attendance at the Tuesday, April 12 Weddington Public Safety Advisory Committee Meeting agreed things could’ve been much worse.
In order to meet the state standard for getting a stop sign in the first place, an intersection must experience a specific number of accidents. According to N.C. Department of Transportation Division Traffic Engineer Scott Cole, this intersection more than met the requirements with more than 27 serious accidents, including one in 2009 that caused a fatality.
When considering a stop sign versus other options, Cole explained road volume was not high enough to justify NC-DOT implementation of a traffic light, and a roundabout would have taken real estate and cost $500,000. “A four-way stop is the safest kind of stop sign you can have,” Cole explained. “It may be inconvenient but reduces the number of crashes as well as their severity.”
Since the four-way stop implementation a few months ago, drivers are experiencing a period described by Cole as a “traffic adjustment. “ He added that most people “drive on habit,” which perhaps explains the initial rush of complaints and concerns brought to the attention of the town’s deputies, according to Deputy Ron Honeycutt.
It appears that drivers may be amending their habits, however, and remembering to stop. “There were a lot of concerns initially that people were blowing through the stop sign,” Honeycutt said. “The complaints appear to be slowing down, though, and not as many are coming in.”
To help drivers out, there are two signs on either end of each intersection to warn people the stop sign is coming up. Cole informed the Safety Committee he had spent a few minutes earlier that day observing driver behavior at the intersection, and was pleased that people were following the law by coming to a complete stop.
The committee discussed additional options to enhance intersection safety, with committee member John Houston suggesting the removal of a tree branch blocking the view of the intersection from Beulah Church Road. Cole agreed to have the NC-DOT take a closer look at the branch, and Town Clerk Amy McCollum agreed to place a notice in the Town’s upcoming newsletter reminding residents about the new stop sign. Furthermore, Houston will work with town staff and deputies to place mobile speed radars at “hot spots” like the intersection when not in use at other parts of town.
Chairman Walker Davidson will report to the town council that the stop sign appears to be doing its job, but that residents still need some more time to adjust. “The best thing to do is give it some time to work,” Davidson said. If a future re-evaluation indicates the stop sign is not effectively minimizing safety concerns, the Safety Committee will then look into additional options.