Northeastern North Carolina doesn’t have the traffic congestion of some of the more populated areas of the state. Even so, several area counties rank among the nation’s most dangerous.

According to new data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the per capita rates of fatal traffic accidents in Tyrrell, Northampton, Gates and Washington counties were nearly double the median fatality rates for all counties in the United States in 2012.

  • Gates Co.—33.70 traffic deaths per 100,000 population
  • Tyrrell Co.—46.10 traffic deaths per 100,000 population
  • Northampton Co.—37.73 traffic deaths per 100,000 population
  • Washington Co.—31.41 traffic deaths per 100,000 population
  • All U.S. Counties—17.42 traffic deaths per 100,000 population

Speeding is a primary cause of preventable serious accidents and deadly crashes in Northeastern North Carolina. The same report reveals that Hertford, Martin and Beaufort counties were among the nation’s top one-third when it comes to rates of speeding-related fatalities.

Overall, there were 1,292 traffic-related fatalities in North Carolina last year, a slight increase from the previous year. This number includes 198 motorcycle fatalities and 197 pedestrian deaths.  Over 900 of these deaths occurred in rural areas of the state.

The report also shows a rise in the number of alcohol-related fatal crashes in 2012. A total of 402 people died in crashes involving alcohol in 2012 compared to 359 the previous year. Drunk driving contributed to 31 percent of all North Carolina traffic deaths last year, which is the same as the national average – reversing a trend that had seen the state’s percentage of alcohol-related traffic fatalities lower than the national average for at least the past five years.

Seat belt and child restraint use continues to be a concern. Among the 827 people who died in car crashes, at least 351 of them were unrestrained at the time of the accident.

While it’s too early to know for sure what might be contributing to these disturbing increases, the message for Northeastern North Carolina drivers should be clear: slow down, buckle up and don’t drink and drive.

In the event of an auto accident, it is important for victims to seek competent and experienced legal representation.

Nationally, the number of traffic fatalities also increased in 2012, which reverses a trend that had seen decreases in traffic deaths each year for the past six years.

A total of 33,561 people died last year in the U.S. as a result of traffic crashes, compared to 32,479 in 2011. Another 2.36 million people were injured – an increase of 6.5 percent from the previous year, the first significant increase since 1995.

According to the report, there were 10,322 traffic deaths involving an impaired driver in 2012, an increase of 4.6% from the previous year.

Not all news coming from the report was bad. The nation’s youngest drivers (age 16-20) saw a decrease in the traffic fatalities again in 2012, continuing a seven-year trend of decreases.   Alcohol-related fatalities dropped by 15% in this age group, as well.


National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (