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LUMBERTON – The number of roadway deaths fell by 4% in Robeson County last year, and officials say that’s good news in a rural county that has consistently been among North Carolina’s deadliest for traffic crashes.

A total of 66 people died in crashes across the county last year, compared with 69 people who lost their lives in 2021, according to the preliminary data.

The figure, which comes from the N.C. Department of Transportation, was among the positive news in recent crash data shared during Thursday’s meeting of the Robeson County Vision Zero Task Force in Lumberton. Vision Zero aims to eliminate road deaths by increasing education and awareness of traffic safety.

According to the department’s Traffic Safety Unit in Raleigh, the county experienced last year:

• A 9% decline in total crashes, compared with a 3% decline statewide;

• Three fewer crashes involving fatalities; and

• Declines in fatal crashes where consuming alcohol and drifting out of a lane were contributing causes.

Grady Hunt (pictured above), chairman of the local Vision Zero initiative, credited the continued efforts in engineering, enforcement, education and emergency response across multiple local and state agencies for helping reverse a trend that, until last year, had seen a steady increase in the number of traffic deaths in the county.

“These numbers shared today are positive news and represent the collective hard work of many,” said Hunt, a Pembroke attorney who represents Fayetteville-based Highway Division 6 on the N.C. Board of Transportation. “I’m glad to see the numbers are declining again, but these figures also remind us that we’ve got to roll up our sleeves and keep being vigilant. These deaths are preventable.”

According to NCDOT crash data, speeding and not wearing seatbelts remain a persistent cause of highway deaths in Robeson county. For instance, speeding was a factor in 44% of fatal crashes over the past two years in the county; the statewide average was only 32%.

Thursday’s meeting marked the fifth anniversary of the Robeson County Vision Zero Task Force, which includes locally elected officials and representatives of major institutions that came together under Hunt in early 2018 to combat highway deaths.

In addition to hearing the news on crash data, the task force Thursday also received updates from its clergy outreach project; the N.C. Governor’s Highway Safety Program; the N.C. State Highway Patrol; and the Division 6’s Incident Management vehicles that patrol Interstate 95.

For the past several years, Robeson County has been ranked by the NCDOT as the worst in the state for overall crash data, based on several criteria. The NCDOT and the Governor’s Highway Safety Program are supporting the task force by providing statistics, expertise and other resources, such as Highway Safety Program grants. To learn more, visit the Robeson County Vision Zero webpage

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