BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WECT) – 2012 marked the highest fatality rate in five years for both Brunswick and New Hanover Counties. Brunswick County, however, was really hit the hardest this past year.
There were 27 fatal accidents in Brunswick County in 2012, but in 2011 there were 16. Ten of the 27 happened on US Highway 17 in Brunswick County. It's an area that is heavily traveled and monitored by troopers.
Another eye-opening statistic – there were five motorcycle fatalities in 2012 and only one in 2011.
"What the troopers are trying to do is make sure you can safely get where you're going," explained First Sgt. Troy Pope with the NC Highway Patrol. "We do not like working these traffic fatalities. We do not like notifying the family members on this type of thing so we will continue to work hard and hopefully we can see those numbers reduce down and make the highways a lot safer for everyone."
The North Carolina Highway Patrol keeps detailed logs of all accidents. Those logs include location, people involved, and any other notes gathered during the investigation.
Pope said they couldn't find a trend that contributed to the higher number of fatalities in 2012. Trends are typically related to things like speed, distracted driving or running off the road. And according to troopers, more people are wearing seatbelts, which could ultimately save lives.
While officials can't identify trends, they are aware of a well-known problem area that has led to a number of fatal accidents. Many know the curve by Orton Plantation as not only dangerous, but deadly. Now, the NC DOT is taking action to make the area safer.
The Roadside Environmental group of NCDOT is currently working on an estimate to remove a line of trees that hugs the curve. The project stems from an accident that happened in August 2012 that killed Aaron Burke Jr.
Officials say the majority of the serious crashes that have occurred in this curve have involved running off the roadway and striking one of the trees.
The project's goal is to prevent people from running off the road and to remove potential strike hazards from their path if they do.
Officials in Brunswick County will submit plans for this project for funding in March.
New Hanover County had 13 fatal crashes in 2012. In 2011, there were only seven fatalities.
According to troopers, 2012 marks the highest number of fatalities since 2008 as well.
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