Survive the Drive Campaign Aims to Reduce Fatalities on Rural Roads

Monday, February 12, 2018 - 9:23am

Leadership from the State Highway Patrol, N.C. Governor’s Highway Safety Program and local communities gathered in Clayton on Friday for the launch of the “Survive the Drive” campaign to highlight the dangers of speeding and distracted driving on rural roads.

Although many collisions occur on interstates and highways, statistics show that most occur on secondary roads. In 2017, the State Highway Patrol responded to 48,789 collisions on secondary roads. Among those collisions, more than 14,000 involved personal injury and 383 resulted in one or more fatalities.

Trooper with crashed vehicle staged during press eventThe problem of rural road crashes isn’t unique to North Carolina. According to stats provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation, although only 19 percent of the US population lived in rural areas in 2012, rural road fatalities accounted for 54 percent of all collision fatalities. The U.S. DOT numbers show that the fatality rate in rural areas is 2.4 times higher than it is in urban areas.

That’s why the Governor’s Highway Safety Program is partnering with the North Carolina State Highway Patrol and local law enforcement to conduct the six-month pilot rural roads “Survive the Drive” campaign in five North Carolina counties. “Survive the Drive” is the result of recommendations made in a report by the National Governors Association, “State Strategies to Reduce Highway and Traffic Fatalities and Injuries: A Road Map for States.” The campaign’s message to motorists is to slow down and avoid distracted driving. It is part of a national initiative to reduce injuries and fatalities on rural roadways.

“While five counties have been identified to be the focus of this operation, troopers will actively participate in all 100 counties in an attempt to ensure safe travel for each person who travels on our state’s roadways,” said Col. Glenn M. McNeill Jr., commander of the State Highway Patrol. “Motorists are encouraged to monitor their speed, avoid driving distracted and never under any circumstance drive while impaired. We also would like to remind motorists to buckle up, in every seat, every time. Through the combined efforts of each organization involved, we will work together to accomplish the shared goal of saving lives across our state.”

Although the campaign will have a broad scope across the state, five counties with high fatality and crash rates were selected to be its primary focus: Johnston, Harnett, Sampson, Randolph and Cleveland. The campaign will concentrate on high-visibility traffic enforcement on the rural roadways in those counties. The State Highway Patrol will conduct a social media campaign to bring attention to the effort during the week of Feb. 12 – 16.

“There are too many lives lost each year in speed- and distracted-driving-related crashes, and we are determined to change that,” said Mark Ezzell, director of the N.C. Governor’s Highway Safety Program. “Any time drivers speed or drive distracted, they are putting themselves, their passengers, and other drivers and pedestrians at risk. We must all work together to reach the vision of zero fatalities on our roads.”

Clyde Roper, Communications Officer