2021 Deemed Deadliest Year on NC Roads in Two Decades

by Gwen Newell

At the start of the pandemic two years ago, the roads in North Carolina saw little-to-no traffic presence at all, but no one could have predicted the following year would yield a growing number of tragedies on those very same roads.

The NCGHSP (North Carolina Governor’s Highway Safety Program) recently released data on fatalities that revealed more people were killed in traffic fatalities in North Carolina last year than in any other year in the past two decades. The 1,755 people that were killed in traffic crashes in 2021 surpassed the state’s previous record of 1,704 traffic fatalities in 2007. Last year’s numbers also represented a slight uptick over the traffic fatalities recorded in 2020.

The 2021 data did however show a decrease in some types of crashes compared to the 2020 data. For example, North Carolina saw a decrease in traffic fatalities related to pedestrians, cyclists and work zones. However, the state saw an increase in other types of fatalities attributed to speeding, unbuckled occupants and distracted driving. Also, over the past five years, almost all categories have shown a year-over-year increase in fatal crash totals.

The NCDOT’s (North Carolina Department of Transportation) Safety and Mobility Unit provided detailed county-by-county information on traffic crashes, although there is some lag time in when updated data is made available.

In conclusion, a harrowing reality remains – North Carolina’s data mirrors a disturbing nationwide trend. The 31,720 people killed in the first nine months of 2021 represented more deaths on the nation’s roads than the first nine months of any year since 2006.

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