Troopers Kick Off Rural Roadways Safety Initiative

Representatives from the NC Governor’s Highway Safety Program, state troopers and local law enforcement agencies converged on a rural roadway in Johnston County today (Friday) to officially launch a new “Survive the Drive” initiative to reduce speeding and distracting driving on rural roadways.

The initiative was launched on Government Road near Blue Pond Road, west of Clayton, at the exact spot of a 2016 crash that claimed the life of a 23 year-old man who died in a single vehicle wreck blamed on speed.  The crash also seriously hurt a 19 year-old Raleigh woman who was riding in the car.

The mother of Robert Tutor Jr. who was killed in the 2016 crash was also on hand for the event.  The Cleveland Fire Department, which responded to the fatal accident two years ago was present to demonstrate vehicle extrication techniques.

Friday’s campaign launched the “Survive the Drive” initiative in 5 counties of North Carolina – Johnston, Harnett, Sampson,Cleveland and Randolph counties. Troopers from each county were present for the kickoff.

“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 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.”

“Survive the Drive” is the result of recommendations in a report by National Governors Association, “State Strategies to Reduce Highway and Traffic Fatalities and Injuries: A Road Map for States”. A task force including the Governor’s Highway Safety Program, State Highway Patrol, N.C. Department of Transportation and the Institute for Transportation Research and Education at N.C. State University devised a strategy to combat speeding and distracted-driving crashes on North Carolina rural roadways.

“The primary mission of this initiative is to reduce the number of fatalities on secondary roadways,” said Colonel Glenn McNeill Jr., commander of the State Highway Patrol during Friday’s campaign kickoff near Clayton.  “Through the combined efforts of each organization involved, we will work together to accomplish the shared goal of saving lives across our state.”

In the last five years there were 57,955 crashes and 1,154 fatalities related to speeding on North Carolina highways. During the same period there were 53,313 crashes and 482 fatalities related to distracted driving.

The Governor’s Highway Safety Program has awarded $238,000 for the six-month pilot program in the five counties. The campaign will conclude in June, and a report will be available later this year. Photos by John Payne