By Mark S. Kenna
Aug. 7, 2013. For the third year in a row Watauga County ranks as one of the most dangerous places to drive in the state, according to an analysis of 2012 crash data by AAA Carolinas.
Watauga County averages 259.3 crashes per 100 million vehicle miles traveled and clocked in at the fourth spot. See the top three below.
- 1. Pitt – 306.7 crashes per 100 million vehicle miles
- 2. New Hanover – 286.8 crashes per 100 million vehicle miles
- 3. Pearson – 266.6 crashes per 100 million vehicle miles
AAA Carolinas bases its annual ranking of the most dangerous counties on the likelihood of a certain type of crash — fatal, injurious, motorcycle, tractor-trailer, total — based on vehicle miles traveled.
“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.
For fatal crashes per vehicle miles traveled in 2012, Hoke, Warren, Gates Robeson and Yancey counties ranked most dangerous. Combined, these rural counties accounted for 81 fatal crashes – 6.8% of the state’s total – despite carrying only 2.4% of the state’s vehicle miles traveled.
Nationally, rural roads account for two-thirds of fatal crashes. “In addition to more curves, insufficient road markings and limited police presence, rural roads are prone to more single-vehicle accidents, particularly those involving alcohol,” said Parsons.
The AAA Carolinas analysis also covered other categories. Graham County topped the list for being the most dangerous county for motorcycles for collisions, injury and fatal crashes for the past three years. Tyrrell County is ranked first for offering the best chance of being in a fatal tractor-trailer crash. And the safest county was Swain County, which has been the county with the best chance of not being in a collision for the past three years in a row.