Our roads can be a dangerous place, and wreck victims are a mix of experienced and inexperienced drivers that leave many grieving family and friends.

In the Roanoke Valley, this month began with a horrific collision on the afternoon of Feb. 1 on Interstate 95.

Police said the crash occurred when a 78-year-old Hobgood motorist drove the wrong way on a ramp at Exit 171, heading north on the southbound lanes of Interstate 95. A head-on collision between the local driver’s car and a vehicle from New Jersey led to catastrophic results.

There were five people between the two vehicles, and all injured parties were eventually taken to Vidant Medical Center in Greenville.

In the days that followed, police released news of three victims who lost their lives, ages 71, 72 and 81.

That afternoon wreck was greeted later in the same day with reports that a Roanoke Rapids woman died following a collision on Thelma Road.

Reports of four traffic deaths in a small community is too many, but officials with AAA Carolina say it is just the tip of the iceberg.

In fact, AAA officials said our state’s younger drivers are at particular risk of distracted driving.

A report by the agency released last week said North Carolina had the second highest number of deaths in the nation during the first six months of 2011 for drivers 16 and 17. Only Texas had more deaths, and the N.C. number is up 11 percent over the same period in 2010.

AAA said, nationally, teen traffic deaths jumped from the first six months of 2010 to the first six months of 2011 — the latest time frame for which traffic crash data is available.

“If the trend continued into the second half of 2011, it would mark the reversal of long-standing yearly declines in teen driver deaths, which started with the adoption of (Graduated Driver License) programs in the 1990s,” the report said.

Cell phone conversations, texting and mobile computers that fit in the palm of our hands have become normal for experienced and inexperienced drivers, but we need to all practice the policy of limiting or eliminating their use while driving.

The safety of all those on the road needs to be the only thing in service.

Stephen Hemelt, managing editor


(1) comment


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