AAA Carolinas has announced its annual list of most dangerous counties for collisions. The agency bases its annual ranking of the most dangerous counties on the likelihood of certain kinds of crashes based on vehicle miles traveled. These include fatal, injurious, motorcycle and tractor-trailer collisions.
Just like the past two years, the same four counties have again topped the overall list of most dangerous counties for collisions — Pitt, New Hanover, Person and Watauga.
Pitt County has ranked as the most dangerous county in the state for the past five years. With 4,633 traffic crashes in 2012, Pitt County averages 306.7 crashes per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, which is 50 percent higher than the state average.
New Hanover County averages 286.8 crashes per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, Person County averages 266.6 and Watauga County averages 259.3.
“Consistently high rankings for being one of the most dangerous counties in the state should be a wake-up call for better traffic enforcement or road design,” said David E. Parsons, president and CEO of AAA Carolinas in a press release announcing the list.
Hoke, Warren, Gates Robeson and Yancey counties ranked most dangerous for fatal crashes per vehicle miles traveled. Combined, these rural counties accounted for 81 fatal crashes – 6.8 percent of the state’s total – despite carrying only 2.4 percent of the state’s vehicle miles traveled.
Overall, fatal motorcycle crashes increased 15 percent from 138 in 2011 to 158 in 2012, accounting for 13 percent of all fatal traffic crashes, compared to 12 percent in 2011. The most dangerous county for motorcycles is Graham County, which has topped the list for collisions, injury and fatal crashes for the past three years. The other counties ranked most dangerous for fatal motorcycle accidents were Alexander, Alleghany, Gates and Greene.
Fatal tractor-trailer crashes were also up 13 percent overall, from 68 in 2011 to 77 in 2012. These accidents account for about 6 percent of all of North Carolina’s fatal crashes. The counties with the most fatal tractor-trailer crashes in 2012 were Tyrrell, Warren, Northampton, Polk and Montgomery. Northampton was ranked fifth in 2011 and none of the other four were on last year’s list.
Counties rated most dangerous for tractor-trailer collisions were Anson, Hertford, Washington, Bladen and Duplin. Anson County, along U.S. 74 between Charlotte and Wilmington, has topped the list for tractor-trailer collisions for the past three years. Counties with the best chance of being in an injurious crash involving a tractor-trailer were Hertford, Washington, Sampson, Bladen and Anson.
The deadliest county with the highest total number of fatal crashes was Mecklenburg, which includes Charlotte, NC, with 69 fatal crashes, up from 67 in 2011. Wake had 61, Cumberland 50, Robeson 47 and Guilford 39. Although Mecklenburg, Wake, Cumberland and Guilford counties are metropolitan areas, rural Robeson County includes heavily traveled I-95 and U.S. 74.