AAA study: 3 people die each day on NC roads

Mecklenburg County led the state in the number of pedestrian deaths and vehicle collision fatalities last year, but the 20th annual AAA Carolinas rankings of road safety says other parts of North Carolina are more dangerous.

AAA said an average of three people die every day in the state in traffic crashes.

The rankings factor in both the number of deaths and the number of miles driven in the state’s 100 counties.

By that measurement, Graham County in the western mountains is the most likely place to be in a fatal vehicle crash; Pitt County in the coastal plain offers the highest chance of being in any vehicle crash; and Warren County in northeast North Carolina has the highest ratio of pedestrian deaths.

In fact, only a handful of Charlotte-area counties ranked in the top five of “dangerous” categories in AAA’s ratings. Anson County ranked the most dangerous county in North Carolina for tractor-trailer crashes, Gaston County was fourth-worst in vehicle injury crashes, and Stanly County ranked fifth most dangerous for all vehicle collisions.

David Parsons, CEO and president of AAA Carolinas, said the number of traffic deaths has dropped steadily in North Carolina since 2010, but he said the state ranks third behind Texas and California in the number of traffic deaths on noninterstate highways.

“It’s great to see a decrease in road deaths, but it’s still a concern when you consider that more than three people still die every day on North Carolina roads,” Parsons said.

Mecklenburg County had 61 fatal vehicle crashes last year, AAA said. But considering the number of miles driven in the county, the motor club said it found the five most dangerous counties for fatalities were (in order) Graham, Alleghany, Alexander, Bladen and Vance. Those counties combined for 40 deaths, despite accounting for only 2 percent of the state’s total vehicle miles traveled.

Parsons cited Graham County as a trouble spot.

“We need to pay more attention to the traffic death hot spots like Graham County, one of the most dangerous counties in the nation for motorcycle crashes,” he said.

Graham ranked “most dangerous” of the 100 counties in five categories – injury crashes, fatal crashes, motorcycle crashes, injury motorcycle crashes, and fatal motorcycle crashes.

AAA also ranked the safest counties in the state. No Charlotte-area county was in the top five in any category, AAA said.