Robeson County vehicle deaths up drastically in 2017

LUMBERTON – The number of people killed last year in vehicle crashes in Robeson County totaled 53, compared with just 37 deaths in 2016, according to new figures from the N.C. Department of Transportation

At a meeting Thursday, April 12, at the Robeson County Emergency Operations Center, members of the Robeson County Vision Zero Task Force reviewed the latest crash figures and discussed strategies for changing driver behavior and reducing highway deaths. Guests included representatives from area fire stations, police agencies and other first-responders.

State Transportation Secretary James Trogdon said the department is making roadways safer, citing the recently awarded $5 million contract to reconstruct more than a mile of North Odom Street/Prospect Road, a major entrance to the UNC-Pembroke campus, to include new roundabouts, medians and crosswalks.

“Safety is our top priority,” said Trogdon. “This project will make the entrance to UNC-Pembroke safer and add new features that will enhance the Prospect Road side of campus.”

For the past several years, Robeson has consistently ranked as North Carolina’s deadliest county, based on numbers of crash deaths per 1,000 vehicles. Robeson has 1.3 percent of North Carolina’s population but 3.1 percent of fatal crashes, with an average 43 deaths annually.

Brian Mayhew, the state’s traffic safety engineer who presented the newly available statistics for 2017, said the leading causes of Robeson County crash deaths are not buckling up, going too fast, drinking and inattentiveness.

“These latest figures should be a concern to all of us, but they also demonstrate how vital our work is getting people to buckle up, no matter where they are in the car, and to stop speeding and driving with their eyes on their cell phones,” said Grady Hunt, the task force chairman and a member of the state Board of Transportation.

The Vision Zero Task Force – a countywide collaboration aimed at eliminating traffic deaths and serious injuries, held its kickoff meeting February at UNC-Pembroke. The task force looks this year to unveil campaigns, videos and other materials to promote better driving habits across the county.