Traffic deaths increase in Winston-Salem

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.-- Winston-Salem Police Chief Scott Cunningham says traffic fatalities are one of the city's biggest problems so he's beefing up patrols, check points and enforcement both day and night to combat the problem.

Last year, 23 people died in traffic accidents compared to 18 in 2011.

"You always want to see a decrease in fatalities," said Corporal Harry White, a member of the Winston-Salem Traffic Enforcement Unit.

White says the main problems include drivers distracted by texting, drunk drivers, speed, those who don't wear seat belts and pedestrians not following traffic rules.

In response to those issues, officers will be conducting more seatbelt and DWI checkpoints.

"We are trying to encourage seatbelt usage. We are doing nighttime seatbelt enforcement and some daytime, stationary checks," says White.

More officers will be working speed enforcement, as well as watching for pedestrians who don't follow safety rules.

There were more crashes involving pedestrians this year, than in years past.

"They think they always have the right of way but that is not true," says White.

"Often times pedestrians make the mistake thinking they have the right of way thinking they can cross the street at anytime expecting the driver to stop."

White also says walkers are distracted using phones and radios and forget to follow cross walk signals and basic rules of the road.

The Winston-Salem Traffic Enforcement Unit's extra patrols start this month.