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A new analysis by AAA Carolinas finds that, for the third year in a row, fatal auto accidents in North Carolina are far more likely to occur in rural areas than road use patterns would suggest.

In 2011, traffic deaths per mile traveled were highest in Clay, Graham, Hyde, Robeson, and Hertford counties. These five counties had 61 fatal crashes—5.4 percent total for North Carolina—but only 2 percent of the state’s traffic as measured in vehicle miles.

National statistics show that two out of every three fatal accidents occur on rural roads. David E. Parsons, the president and CEO of AAA Carolinas, told reporters, “These roads are notorious for single-vehicle accidents involving speeding, drinking and younger drivers.”

Beyond the Rural Borders

When only the volume of accidents is considered, the focus shifts away toward urban areas. The top five counties for any type of vehicle accident in 2011 were Pitt, New Hanover, Person, Watauga and Cumberland counties. Those same counties were also in the top five in the 2010 records. The top five counties for accidents involving any type of injury were Graham, New Hanover, Pitt, Wayne and Cumberland counties.

Other lists by county:

  • Top five counties for fatal motorcycle accidents: Graham, Alleghany, Clay, Pamlico, and Pender.
  • Top five counties for all semi-truck accidents: Anson, Bladen, Polk, Lee, and Wayne counties.
  • Top five counties for fatal semi-truck crashes: Hyde, Richmond, Yadkin, Ashe, and Northampton.
  • Safest five counties for traffic crashes involving injuries: Swain, Camden, Polk, Hyde, and Washington.
  • Safest five counties for fatal traffic accidents: Yancey, Camden, Swain, Durham, and Scotland.

The Overall Assessment

According to the analysis by AAA Carolinas, the roads in North Carolina have become steadily safer in recent years. The 2011 statistics represent an eight percent drop in traffic fatalities over 2010. Officials credit targeted law enforcement efforts in high-risk areas and improved safety technology in vehicles as helping reduce fatalities.

Parsons, however, sees no reason for complacency in the new numbers. “It is gratifying to see the decrease in fatalities but dismaying to note that more than three people still die every day on North Carolina roads,” he told reporters.

The car accident attorneys and staff at Speaks Law Firm couldn’t put it any better than that.