Reckless driving continues to plague St. Louis, as illegal drivers use Chippewa and other streets as speedways

Published: Aug. 8, 2022 at 9:39 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - Live, work, or play, St. Louis residents know the city has serious issues on its roads. New demands for the city and police to stop the reckless behavior on the streets are coming after another crash involving a pedestrian.

One area in question, of course, is Chippewa, in front of Ted Drewes, after a teen boy was killed by a speeding driver.

It’s a stretch where three pedestrians were hit and killed this year alone, two in front of the popular St. Louis staple known for frozen custard.

Ted Drewes management told News 4 that a police officer is present nightly for crowd control. That’s a practice in place for the last 25 years. It’s a commitment that residents elsewhere in the city say doesn’t exist.

Aloha Kelly stood outside her business at the corner of Russell and Jefferson, shaking her head.

“It’s a little scary when you hear them hit the brakes or somebody skidding on the road,” Kelly explained. “You have to brace yourself to make sure it won’t hit your building.”

A speeding driver crashed into her business last November. The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department (SLMPD) installed a traffic camera to encourage drivers to slow down. Kelly said it’s usually ignored.

Just last Wednesday, a driver crashed and flipped over into her neighbor’s yard.

“He went across the street here, hit this traffic lamp. that’s when I saw it,” Kelly shared. “He hit this and flipped over, completely airborne and landed on its top literally about that far from their house.”

It’s an issue city wide.

The most recent example is a crash involving a pedestrian at the corner of Grand and Connecticut. It’s what’s prompting Rachel Witt, the Executive Director for the South Grand Community Improvement District, to draft a letter to Mayor Tishaura Jones and city agencies to change how the city handles reckless driving.

Currently, policy and funding changes ward-to-ward, as aldermen dictate, instead of the city department taking the lead.

“In the past three weeks, five people have been hit, three people are dead,” Witt explained. “The mayor’s office has not addressed this.”

The two-page letter calls for the mayor and her staff to develop a comprehensive approach to transportation planning and construction. According to the letter, it should include, “A focus on enhancing safety on our streets, especially for the most vulnerable road users.”

Almost 30 different organizations undersigned the letter asking for immediate action to address illegal speeding.

Maybe the most talked about incident in the last 10 days happened on Chippewa in front of Ted Drewes. A St. Louis staple since 1929, but the city has never prioritized a safe crossing for visitors.

“Something happened to my child, I’d be devastated so for the fact that family had to lose a child at such an early age, changes need to be made immediately,” customer Alex McCosh said.

Chippewa is one of the most common crash corridors in the city of St. Louis.

A recent study from the non-profit, Trailnet shows 49 pedestrian crashes, with four deaths since 2017. Three pedestrians have been hit and killed just this year, two of them, in front of Ted Drewes.

“You have to keep your head on your shoulders because you never know what’s going to happen in St. Louis City,” McCosh explained. “Anything can happen, next thing you know there’s a disaster.”

In the SLMPD’s latest traffic report - District 2 - which includes the Ted Drewes portion of Chippewa - shows 150 calls for crashes, more than 100 calls were legitimate and reports were filed.

As for Aloha, her neighborhood is the newest addition to this list of high accident locations where police say they’re focusing resources.

“It’s a little ridiculous, to the point something needs to be done,” Kelly shared. “I would rather put my energy, money and attention to make this area safer rather than leave the area.”