Closings and delays

Randolph County ranks high in rural roadway deaths

RANDOLPH COUNTY, N.C. -- Nov. 21 was the most recent fatal crash in Randolph County.

It happened on Old N.C. Highway 13.

Highway Patrol Master Trooper Brandon Baker said the vehicle struck several small trees and then a large tree.

It was a deadly crash Baker says the county has been seeing more of.

"It's extremely upsetting that we have to continue to notify the families that their loved ones aren't coming home," Baker said.

There have been 22 deaths in the county this year.

"The year is 52 weeks so it's about one every other week or so," Baker said.

That's up from 19 deaths last year.

"It's incredibly frustrating because it's all rooted on those preventable things," he said.

The number of fatal crashes have placed Randolph County eighth in the state for rural roadway deaths.

"One hundred counties and Randolph's in the top 10, it was shocking to me," Baker said.

He says 50 percent of the victims weren't wearing a seat belt.

Twenty-five percent of the crashes involved speeding.

Another 25 percent were caused by impairment.

"We want that number to be zero," Baker said.

Baker says they'll use the ranking to target problem areas and figure out how to use their resources better.

"Really work the whole entire county aggressively," the trooper said.

He also says prevention is key and having those conversations early.

Baker talks to students at more than a dozen high schools about driver safety.

"If it's a habit of speeding or a habit of not wearing a seat belt maybe changing that mindset," he said.