CHAPEL HILL – Chapel Hill Police are grateful that drivers did not flood the department with phone calls about minor fender benders during this week’s big storm.
Now, police have another request: Please move your abandoned cars.
Initially, as the snow began wreaking havoc on Chapel Hill-area roadways Wednesday, police asked the public to hold off on making calls about fender benders and other minor issues.
On Friday, Chapel Hill Police Lt. Josh Mecimore said it worked.
“We’ve not had a huge influx of calls,” Mecimore said. “We are currently starting to tow vehicles that were left. We’ve asked people to begin making arrangements to have those vehicles moved.”
Mecimore said that cars that were left behind in travel lanes are causing police some concern now.
“We’re going to start towing cars that are in the roadway, on primary roads” he said. “And then we’ll start working our way toward secondary roads. And hopefully, people will get the message that now that it’s starting to warm and that ice is starting to melt, that it’s time to come back and get your cars.”
He suggested that people check into bus services that can get them out to their stranded vehicles.
The issue, of course, is safety. Mecimore said that while most accidents after the snowfall were caused by patches of black ice, there was at least one where an abandoned car was involved.
“A vehicle that was left in a travel lane was hit by a moving vehicle,” he said.
Mecimore said that, prior to Friday’s towing initiative, about 10 cars were towed by Chapel Hill Police.
“Some of those were towed at the owner’s request,” said Mecimore. “They weren’t impounded by us. I think we impounded seven vehicles.”
Those were left in a travel lane, where they were either blocking emergency vehicles or snow plows. Mecimore said he is still waiting on figures regarding exactly how many roadway accidents occurred during the storm, and the snow-and-ice accumulation that it left behind.
For their part, police department employees, including Mecimore, were out there helping push cars up a treacherous hill on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. on Wednesday.
“Eventually, we got all of those cars pushed out of the way,” he said. “ I think we ended up having to tow two of the ones from out there.”