North Carolina set an unfortunate record last year – the most traffic fatalities in its history. According to the Governor’s Highway Safety Program, which is part of the North Carolina Department of Transportation, preliminary numbers show that 1,755 people lost their lives in over 1,600 crashes on our roads in 2021. That’s a 5% increase in fatalities over 2020 and higher than the previous record back in 2007.
No part of the state was immune from fatal crashes. However, the Greensboro and Winston-Salem areas were particularly hard hit.
Lane departures and older drivers
By far, the largest number continues to involve lane departures. That’s despite the fact that more and more vehicles are equipped with lane departure warnings and even lane-assist technology. Intersection-related crashes increased a bit over 2020, as did those involving speeding and distracted driving.
Last year saw more fatal crashes and more fatalities (about 100 more than in 2020) among drivers over 65. Teen fatalities have remained steady, dropping just slightly in 2021. Fatalities related to alcohol and drugs both dropped last year (by 11.5% and 8.3% respectively).
Too many people still don’t wear seat belts
So what do these numbers mean for those of us who drive on North Carolina’s roads every day? Doing everything possible to protect yourself, those in your vehicle and others on the road is key. One important piece of data is disturbing and crucial for everyone to remember: The number of fatal crashes and individual fatalities involving people not wearing seat belts is going in the wrong direction. Both inched up slightly from 2020 and were considerably higher than the 5-year average.
As the director of N.C. Governor’s Highway Safety Program said, “People are dying in record numbers on our roads, and it’s going to take an all-hands on deck approach from communities, organizations and individual drivers to reverse this trend.”
If you or a loved one has suffered injuries in a crash caused by another driver, it’s crucial to do everything possible to get the compensation you need for medical bills and other expenses and damages. Make sure you know and fight for your rights.