RANDOLPH COUNTY, N.C. — Flowers and hearts mark the spot on N.C. Highway 134 near Asheboro where 17-year-old Edgar Salazar died on December 14th after troopers say he crossed left of center.
"That's just a bright young life that's not going to be able to continue going forward," said Master Trooper Brandon Baker with the North Carolina Highway Patrol. "There was a car that was traveling north, crossed in the center lane, and hit a truck that was traveling south."
That death was the 23rd fatal crash in Randolph County in 2017.
"It's just always shocking no matter how many times it happens," Baker said.
It’s a number of deaths Baker wants to see drop to zero this new year.
"We just want to prevent this from happening anymore," he said.
State troopers are taking action by collecting data from now through June on deadly crashes in the county.
"Seat belt violations, child restraint, left of center, impaired driving, distracted, speeding,” he said.
It's part of a study with the National Governors Association on what causes roadway deaths in rural areas in hopes to prevent them.
Last year, the county ranked eighth in the state for rural roadway deaths.
“Every other week, roughly somebody in Randolph County is not going to get to come home to their family," Baker said.
This year, Baker says troopers will beef up their presence on busy roads.
"Kind of saturate one area at a time," he said.
They also plan on setting up daytime driver's license check points.
"Zero roadway deaths,” he said. “That's what we want."
The results of the study are expected to be released in July.