According to the City of Durham, a preliminary report counted at least 20 crashes and slide-offs at the sharp curve in the 2900 block of Dearborn Drive from Maplewood Drive to Apollo Street. Of those 20 incidents, nearly all of them reportedly involve speeding.
"I've been saying the same thing for years," neighbor Gerry Ford told ABC11. "People drive around this curve like they're in NASCAR."
Think this mailbox was designed to look like this? Riiiiight. Tonight on @ABC11_WTVD, why the mailbox is a symbol of worry on a @CityofDurhamNC road known to neighbors as “Dead Man’s Curve.” pic.twitter.com/npSBGsQHw3— Jonah Kaplan (@KaplanABC11) March 19, 2018
Henry Lengeford, who owns several rental properties in the area, said he has replaced 10 mailboxes that were knocked down by the cars involved in the crashes.
"Replacing the mailboxes, it costs maybe $200, but losing a life is different," Lengeford said. "There are school bus stops here, Durham city bus stops, and if I don't speak up, I'm responsible."
Though Dearborn Drive is a state-owned road, it's managed by the City of Durham in an agreement with the NCDOT. Traffic engineers from both Durham and the DOT confirmed to the I-Team that they've been consulting with each other on ways to improve safety at the curve, but it's proven difficult because of the amount of traffic (an estimated 10,000 cars per day).
Lowering the speed limit from 35 mph to 25 mph, they said, wouldn't make a difference since speed is already a factor. There are warning signs, but they keep getting knocked over.
In a first, a NCDOT engineer confirmed crews will test the feasibility of a guardrail, but the culverts under the road might limit what can be driven into the ground.