Local News

Highway Deaths Up Over Holiday Weekend

Posted November 25, 2007
Updated November 26, 2007

— The death toll on North Carolina's roads was up this Thanksgiving holiday, even as state troopers used helicopters and other methods to catch speeders.

At least 20 people were killed in motor-vehicle accidents statewide since the Thanksgiving holiday officially began at midnight Tuesday, according to the state Highway Patrol.

That is an increase over 2006, when 11 motorists were killed on North Carolina highways during the holiday – the lowest number in three years.

On Interstate 95 near Benson, a single-vehicle accident left a grandmother and her two grandchildren dead, while three other family members were injured.

"All it takes is one small mistake and it can turn into a tragic event. It can happen so quickly,” said J.M. Dorsey of the state Highway Patrol.

In another single-vehicle accident, a Ford Explorer flipped over on Interstate 40 in Raleigh, ejecting two passengers. Five of the vehicle's six occupants were transported to hospitals. I-40 West was shut down for nearly three hours.

"It has been a typically heavy travel season for us this holiday season,” Dorsey said.

The Highway Patrol targeted I-40 in Operation Slowdown, launched on Nov. 13 to aggressively snare speeders on interstates and major four-lane highways.

"I-40 is one of the heaviest travel highways in North Carolina, especially in the Raleigh-Johnston County-Durham area," Lt. Everett Clendenin, spokesman for the Highway Patrol, said. "Close to a million cars travel that particular stretch of highway daily."

AAA estimated 1.09 million North Carolinians and 533,400 South Carolinians planned to hit the highways during the Thanksgiving holiday – an increase of 2 percent over last year’s record. AAA surveys found that 43 percent planned to travel with two to three other people, and 71 percent of parents would take along their children.

The Thanksgiving holiday officially ended at midnight Sunday.

Final numbers on crashes and tickets handed out over the holiday weekend were expected from police Monday.

Monday at 6 p.m. on WRAL: I-85 and I-95 were designed more than a half-century ago to move military vehicles. Now, they're packed with civilian drivers, and there's no solution in sight for the crowding.


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  • killerkestrel Nov 26, 2007

    I agree Steve Crisp that people should not pay so much attention to the number of deaths over the weekend. One awful wreck with a tour bus could have doubled the number of deaths.

    But more funding is needed. For example, I live in a county with 1000 miles of road, yet usually only 3 troopers work it at any one time. I'll drive 100 miles back and forth on I95, and usually I won't see a single trooper, yet I see plenty of people cutting one another off and just being bad drivers.

    I95, I40, and many other roads need widening to keep up with current and future demands. Yet no one wants to pay. 40,000 people die on US roads every year, and our roadways are one of the biggest killers of teens.

  • Sopranos Justice Nov 26, 2007

    more digging and I update my stats...accoring to NHTSB, NC averages around 1,500 fatalities a year, so an average of 4 per day, and over the five day weekend, 20 is about average.

    I know stats can be made to show anything you want, but realistically, the fatalities as a % of miles driven is actually going down, a testament to car safety, driver safety and public awareness.

  • Steve Crisp Nov 26, 2007

    To pwalker:

    As usual, you miss the entire point ot things, but sopranos pretty well clarified it for you. If there are fewer people dying on the roads of North Carolina over holiday periods than at other times, then WHY ARE WE WASTING TAX DOLLARS with all these announcements and programs to reduce highway deaths over holiday weekends?

    Gopanthers and others mourn the death of even one person, but such is the tradeoff we accept when using technology. Idiotic stories like this only fuel that sentiment.

    And what's even worse is you get folks like Iamforjustice taking these meaningless statistics and once again calling for a major change in public policy and wanting a light rail system built -- WITH OUR TAX DOLLARS.

    But just wait for the followup stories like NCHP needing millions in funds to buy more toys to reduce the "tragic" holiday death toll. Or local police needing a BAT mobile or helicopters, using this tripe to justify those purchases WITH OUR TAX DOLLARS.

    It's a scam.

  • pwalker2f2f Nov 26, 2007

    Steve, Whew...It's obvious that you believe your own retoric. Why don't you complete a study so that resources can be placed and utilized the proper way. No study or enforcement program can stop, "DWS", Driving While Stupid. Unless and until people use good common sense driving habits along with obeying the motor vehicle laws, there will be injuries and death along the roadways. You can make a study say anything you want it to, but the bottom line should be to make people think about the consequences of driving irresponsibly.

  • Sopranos Justice Nov 26, 2007

    just an example...looked at this data web site...


    ran a query and saw that, on average, between 2001 and 2006 there were between 3,500 and 3,800 deaths per year on NC highways...that is arond 10 deaths per day. If the toll for the holiday weekend was 20 over a 5 day period, then I think that it went pretty well. I agree that one death is too many, and we should all try and be better drivers, but given the millions and millions of cars and miles driven every day, we do a pretty good job as a population...

  • Sopranos Justice Nov 26, 2007

    "Our family traveled from Raleigh to NoVa this T'sgiving. I could not believe the number of drivers on the road going well over the speed limit"

    That is pretty good! Usually I-95 in NoVa is below the speed limit due to extemely heavy traffic...

    Steve Crisp, I hear your argument, and I would venture another... I drive from Greenville, NC to Greensboro NC and back every Thanksgiving day, and point blank, there is ALWAYS less traffic on 64/440/40 that day than on a normal workday. Yes, there is a lot of people on the roads traveling, (did I hear a 30 million person quote somewhere) but that means that 270 million are NOT...there are a lot of people, at home, taking the day off from work not going anywhere. I would like to see the true statistics on just how much busier holidays are than normal weekends, cause I don't think it is that drastic of a difference. I could be wrong though....

  • Nov 26, 2007

    "In another single-vehicle accident, a Ford Explorer flipped over on Interstate 40 in Raleigh, ejecting two passengers. Five of the vehicle's six occupants were transported to hospitals. I-40 West was shut down for nearly three hours."

    Maybe if they were wearing seatbelts, they wouldn't have been ejected from the vehicle. Also, those bling wheels looked too big for an Explorer. That probably contributed, if not, caused the wreck in the first place. But, the wheels are cool looking.

  • trhet Nov 26, 2007

    Go home Yanks

  • dclark Nov 26, 2007

    I was on the road Fri, on 95 in lumberton. The h/p was racing up and down the median so much it was literally a dust cloud on both sides of 95, for allmost 1/4 mile. One wheeled toward my side, and all the cars in front of me thought he was going to pull out in the road, and they began braking and changing lanes so fast I thought there was going to be a crash right in front of me.I thought to myself that was the most dangerous thing I have ever seen the Hp do.It was almost like they were trying to intimidate the drivers on both sides of 95, and the dust was so thick in that spot it was hard to see clearly. Seeing by the numbers that the crackdown campaign was unsucsessful, hopefullly they won't try those methods again.

  • Deb1003 Nov 26, 2007


    You can cite statistics all you want, and all the errors in the calculating. But if it's a member of your family, it doesn't make a difference. People drive like maniacs, and that causes accidents...and deaths. My condolences to those that have lost family members over this Thanksgiving holiday.