AAA Carolinas has recognized 14 North Carolina communities, including Tarboro, as part of its North Carolina Traffic Safe Communities 2013 program.
The towns of Topsail Beach, Laurinburg and Chapel Hill were named grand winners by the AAA Carolinas Foundation for Traffic Safety in a ceremony at the Washington Duke Inn and Golf Club in Durham on Wednesday.
Winners were chosen for communities under 10,000 in population, those with 10,000 to 30,000 residents, and towns and cities with more than 30,000 in population.
"The AAA Carolinas Foundation for Traffic Safety continues to tackle the deadly practice of texting while driving, especially among teen drivers, a group who has grown up continuously connected to cell phones and computers," said Angela Vogel Daley, president of AAA Carolinas Traffic Safety Foundation. "AAA Carolinas' goal is to create a culture change among teens concerning texting while driving."
The annual Traffic Safe Community Awards are presented in an effort to recognize those cities and towns offering programs and initiatives that make roads safer in the Carolinas.
Maj. Patricia Poole from the North Carolina State Highway Patrol and Bob Stevens from the North Carolina Governor's Highway Safety Program honored local law enforcement and community representatives.
Chapel Hill has been recognized as a Traffic Safe Community eight out of 10 years; it won Grand Winner in 2008, 2010 and 2012. The town has a community service group available to speak on any subject and has an initiative to reduce pedestrian-related collisions.
A Traffic Safe Community for eight out of 10 years, Laurinburg previously won Grand Winner in 2010 and 2011. The town participates in safety fairs and events like National Night Out. Laurinburg also works closely with Region 6 Safe Kids to have child seat checkpoints.
This IS the first year Topsail Beach has won Grand Winner in its population category; the town was first recognized as a Traffic Safe Community in 2009. The town has lowered the speed limit in areas where there is a high volume of pedestrians. They also have a program to cut foliage back from roadways to help with visibility.
The foundation recognized 11 other communities with Outstanding Traffic Safe Community awards for leadership in traffic safety. They are listed below by population category with the total number of years they have been recognized: (*repeat winners)
• Population greater than 30,000:
Cary* (Wake County; nine years)
Apex* (Wake County; five years)
Wilson* (Wilson County; two years)
Kannapolis* (Cabarrus County; three years)
• Population between 10,000 and 30,000:
Holly Springs* (Wake County; two years)
Cornelius* (Mecklenburg County; four years)
Tarboro* (Edgecombe County; five years)
• Population less than 10,000:
Caswell Beach (Brunswick County; first year)
Highlands* (Macon County; seven years)
Tryon (Polk County; first year)
Oakboro (Stanly County; first year)
Traffic safe communities are selected by looking at crash statistics, number of law enforcement officers per capita and presence of formal traffic safety programs. The University of North Carolina at Charlotte provided the statistical analysis and the AAA Carolinas Foundation chose winners in each category giving extra emphasis to those communities that are proactive in enhancing traffic safety efforts.
(A press release from AAA Carolinas provided material for this story.)