Local News

Study deems North Carolina's roads most deadly

Posted August 14, 2008

— Traffic deaths in the United States declined last year, reaching the lowest level in more than a decade, the federal government reported Thursday. In North Carolina, however, the roads are becoming more dangerous.

The state had the nation's largest increase in traffic fatalities from 2006 to 2007.

Nationally, 41,059 people were killed in highway crashes, down by more than 1,600 from 2006. It was the fewest number of highway deaths in a year since 1994, when 40,716 people were killed.

The rate of 1.37 deaths for every 100 million miles traveled in 2007 was the lowest on record, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in its report.

North Carolina's death toll increased the most in the nation, up 121 over the previous year. In 2006, the state recorded 1,554 people killed in motor vehicle crashes. That jumped to 1,675 in 2007.

“It's very troubling,” J. Darrell Jernigan, director of the Governor's Highway Safety Program, said.

Jernigan said there is no single contributing factor behind the increase. He pointed to speeding, lack of seatbelt usage and distracted drivers, like people who drive while texting.

He said another area of concern is motorcyclists. There were 5,154 motorcycle deaths last year in the U.S., compared with 4,837 in 2006. Jernigan said fatalities in that category were also up in North Carolina.

“More folks are out there riding (motorcycles). The gas crunch is going on,” Jernigan added. “Hopefully, last year was an anomaly and things will level out and actually get better next year."

Recent state Highway Patrol statistics indicate the numbers are already trending down. Based on traffic fatalities investigated by state troopers, the state has recorded 150 fewer fatalities than at this time last year.

“That's due to aggressive enforcement, speed enforcement, DUI enforcement and overall public education,” Trooper J. E. Brewer, with the state Highway Patrol, said.

Booze It and Lose It checkpoints are a big part of the effort to keeps the roads safe. Checkpoints across the state conducted last weekend resulted in nearly 500 DWI charges.

“Before they leave that party and before they leave that bar, they say, 'I may run into that driving while impaired check.' They'll get somebody to drive for them, and that's what we want to see,” Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison said.

Other public education initiatives include the state's Click It or Ticket campaign and the R-U Buckled program targeting high school students.


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  • Xscout577 Aug 15, 2008

    EVERYBODY is going to point the finger & we all have our opionions.
    Want to know the real culprit? Check out the link: http://www.ncruralcenter.org/databank/trendpage_Population.asp

    Can you say population explosion? I think you can..
    Until we had our influx of "Northern Aggression", things used to be pretty quite around here ... so y'all go back home & let us get back to our Iced Tea & late afternoon 'porch swingin'.
    Seriously though, since around the early 90's up until now, this area has gotten alot more crowded.
    Face it, people, we're ALL going to have to learn to slow down, be more patient & more considerate of those around us, and by God, we're going to have to hang up that phone while we're driving! (I believe the worst invention ever created is the cell phone).

  • Timetogo Aug 15, 2008

    Wonder how many accidents are actually caused by motorists dodging ever present construction cones...while talking on a cell phone, of course.

  • EdTeach Aug 15, 2008

    Hang up and drive, genius.

  • bigredtruckman Aug 15, 2008

    I completely agree with the "stay to the right" comments. If a car is coming up behind you and you can get over, GET OVER! It would eliminate a lot of the weaving.

    HERE'S YOUR SIGN! If people are passing you on the right and tailgaiting you, GET OVER!!!!!!

  • Bradley07 Aug 15, 2008

    Funny you mention turn signals, I actually witnessed an accident that would NOT have happened if the person had used one. I was on my way to work yesterday, and 2 people never even stopped for the stop sign at the end of the developement. They just cruised out in the road!!!!

  • JohnnyMalaria Aug 15, 2008

    fletchermse - "I thought that falls under § 20‑154 as a requirement.

    Thanks for the ref. Actually, if you read it carefully, most cars don't require signaling devices. Hand signals are permissible. Of course, that would mean having your phone/sandwich/map/pen in your right hand while sticking your left one out the window...and the three official jestures don't resemble any that I have seen...

    The other one that never ceases to baffle me is not turning your headlamps on when it is raining etc. Not only is it unfathomably stupid but it is also illegal (i.e., lights on when using windshield wipers - § 20‑129)

    And I can't get over some of the trailers that people tow.

  • rrnjmm1999 Aug 15, 2008

    Raise the driving age to 18. Give big fines to people who use there phones while driving and get the elderly off the roads. This will help in alot of ways. DRIVING IS A PRIVLEDGE NOT A RIGHT!!!

  • Selleck Aug 15, 2008

    I agree that most people in this state never use their directionals.. what's up with that? Also, they tailgate here like I've never seen anywhere! I drive alot of country roads and have experienced drivers in front of me driving off the road into the dirt and then back onto the road.. over and over with dirt and rocks flying up at my car! Oncoming cars wander over the double yellow and approach me "on my side of the road!" Don't tell me there isn't alot of drunks driving in this state.

  • waste-of-time Aug 15, 2008

    there's nothing people won't blame on immigrants. what a state.

  • mr.chip Aug 15, 2008

    The headline to this story is completely false. NC does not have the deadliest roads by any measure. NC had the largest increase in highway deaths over the past year. There are many states that had more deaths, and many states with a higher fatality rate. It would be interesting to see how the increase compared with NC's increased population. I agree that it is a problem that needs to be addressed, but the story headline is just sensationalizing it.