LUMBERTON – The N.C. Department of Transportation plans to install curve warning signs on several roads in Robeson County to slow down drivers and avoid the risk of going off the roadway.
The department’s traffic safety unit began the study in April, identifying 27 sections of roadway with over 200 combined curves that need additional signage based on crash history and field investigations. Advance warning signs and speed advisories can reduce what is known as “lane departure” crashes between 13% - 29%, according to department research.
A lane departure can include going off the road, colliding head-on with another vehicle or swerving into another lane.
The safety initiative was discussed during Thursday’s virtual meeting of the Robeson County Vision Zero
task force. The investigative work will be completed by this fall, then the department will identify funding to begin installing the signs by next year.
“Focusing on curves that have a history of accidents is another important tool we can use to improve driver safety and save lives right here in Robeson County,” said Grady Hunt, the task force chairman and the area’s representative on the N.C. Board of Transportation.
The familiar yellow-and-black chevron signs, which are typically placed outside of a sharp curve, have shown to reduce nighttime lane-departure crashes by 22%.
Lane departure crashes represent nearly 1 in 5 crashes in the state, and they account for more than half of all highway fatalities or serious injuries. Last year, 51% of Robeson County’s fatal crashes included lane departures as a contributing factor.
Fatal Crashes Increasing in 2020
In other news, Hunt announced the number of fatal crashes continues to be higher this year over last year. So far, there have been 36 traffic deaths in the county this year through July. That compared with 23 deaths last year for the same period.
“We made some progress by working together and highlighting a major public safety issue for Robeson County,” Hunt said. “But we must remain vigilant. We still have plenty of work to do.”
Excessive speeding, lane departures and distracted driving are contributing to the fatal crashes this year, according to data from the NCDOT’s Mobility and Safety Division.
The county reported 53 traffic deaths in 2017 before the task force was formed. In 2018, 48 died; and last year, 43 died.
The task force was formed in 2018 with a mission of changing the driving culture of Robeson County. Robeson County consistently has the worst overall crash ranking
in the state, according to various crash data analyzed by the NCDOT’s Mobility & Safety Division. The crash ranking is based on reported crashes, crash severity, crash rates, registered vehicles and other factors.