RALEIGH, NC (WNCN)- There are some roads, highways and interstates in North Carolina that are getting more dangerous each year.
Tuesday, state leaders held their annual Traffic Safety Expo to educate and promote safe driving.
For the first time in three years, the North Carolina Traffic Expo is back in full effect as the alarming number of fatal crash increase.
Jennifer Homendy with the national transportation safety board, was the keynote speaker at Tuesday’s event and says this is a true public health crisis.
Over 650 law enforcement agencies, engineers, planners and others took part in the annual traffic safety expo to learn ways to prevent accident and fatal crashes from occurring.
“Nationally almost 43,000 people died last year, that number is going up,” Homendy said.
According to the NCDOT, there have been over 1,700 fatal crashes last year in the state alone.
“It’s the highest percentage increase since 1975, and the highest fatally number nationwide since 2005,” Homendy shared with the audience.
She was joined by Eric Boyette, who is the secretary of NC Department of Transportation, and Mark Ezell, who is the director. They all agree that it is not just one persons problem but it involves everyone.
“It’s not just a transportation problem—it’s a public health problem, it’s a engineering problem, it’s a design problem,” Ezell said.
But what are the common reasons behind fatal crashes? And how can we prevent them?
“There is less seatbelt use right now, particularly during the pandemic. More speeding related crashes & more impaired driving crashes,” Homendy said. “It’s everything from making sure that we are planning, building and designing our roads for safety; not for convenience or speed but for safety.”
“They effect so many families across North Carolina, including my own. And we’ve got to put an end to it,” Ezell said.
Pre-recorded remarks were provided by Gov. Roy Cooper.
Over the next few days, participants will go through training that will allow them to detect a driver who is impaired and new ways to educate the public on safe driving.