DAVIDSON COUNTY, N.C. — 2012 was a deadly year on the roads in Davidson County. State Highway troopers investigated 18 traffic fatalities in 2011. Last year troopers investigated 30.
Troopers say the majority of the crashes happened on Interstate 85 where the majority of the traffic comes through the county. The deadly wrecks happened on the rural and secondary roads.
Lateffa Rose lives in Lexington off US-64. She hasn’t seen any accidents in her front yard, but she’s knows they’re happening nearby. “There’s constantly ambulances going up and down the road and rescue units. I know they’re heading to an accident,” says Lateffa Rose, a Lexington resident.
The majority of last year’s accidents weren’t alcohol related. Drivers were just going too fast. Trooper Kelly Britt patrols in Davidson County and he worked a lot of the deadly crashes in 2012. It’s tough to pinpoint the exact reason for the increase from 2011 to 2012, but there were less troopers patrolling the county.
“Where our shortage contributes to it is the fact that there’s not that many of us out there being able to patrol and do the preventive patrol that stops it before it happens,” explains Trooper Kelly Britt, with the State Highway Patrol.
21 is considered a full staff of troopers in Davidson County. Since 2011 the department has been operating with four fewer troopers. “When you cut our operating budget, when you cut our monetary budget to pay troopers its harder to recruit people,” admits Trooper Britt.
Rose has see and had enough close calls. “I know everybody has somewhere they’ve got to be in a hurry but you know what when you are dead and gone you are going to be in a hurry?” says Rose.
The trooper shortage is statewide. North Carolina is short about 200 troopers.