Every year there are more than 30,000 fatal car crashes in the United States resulting in nearly 33,000 individual fatalities. This includes vehicle occupants as well as cyclists, pedestrians and other non-motorists. While the number of traffic fatalities in North Carolina has declined steadily since 2007, the ratio of traffic fatalities to population still remains above the national average.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were a total of 1,227 traffic fatalities in North Carolina in 2011. This represents 12.71 traffic fatalities per 100,000 members of the population.
This is significantly above the national average of 11.05 fatalities per 100,000 members of the population:
- Seventy-one percent of those killed were occupants of a car or truck.
- Forty percent of traffic fatalities in North Carolina in 2011 involved at least one party who had a measurable amount of alcohol in his or her system.
- Thirty-five percent involved at least one party who was legally intoxicated.
- Fourteen percent were motorcyclists.
- Thirteen percent were pedestrians.
In North Carolina, the vast majority of traffic fatalities occur in rural areas. In 2011, there were 835 rural traffic fatalities as opposed to just 391 in urban areas. More than half of the traffic fatalities in the state involved at least one vehicle exceeding the speed limit. Of a total of 833 passenger vehicle occupants killed in North Carolina in 2011, 379 were not wearing a seatbelt or other safety restraint.
The NTSHA’s report estimates that more than 500 people in North Carolina were saved by using seatbelts in 2011 and that an additional 122 would have survived had they been restrained.