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U.S. 401 may not be the worst but deaths and injuries matter

They often say, never let facts get in the way of a good story.

Truth of the matter is, crash statistics for U.S. 401, from the Wake County line up to N.C. 56 in Louisburg are not the most horrific you'll find.

But, they are, indeed, bad enough.

There were more than 430 wrecks reported along the roughly 11-mile stretch of U.S. 401 from the Wake County line to Louisburg from 2014 to 2019.

In the past five years, the State Department of Transportation's accident data revealed there were 242 wrecks on U.S. 401 between the Wake County line and Flat Rock Church Road -- what is referred to as Section C of the two-lane highway under renovation.

And, there were 189 wrecks reported between Flat Rock Church Road and N.C. 56 at the southern end of Louisburg.

From Nov. 1, 2014 until Dec. 15, 2019, there was one fatality reported in the area of Section C.

During that same time period, there were three fatal accidents reported in Section D -- with two of them happening roughly within a 10-day period in December.

Narratively, going back to 2006, the highway has had a deadly history.

In the fall of 2006, a 77-year-old woman was killed along the highway when someone ran a stop sign near Tarboro Road.

In the summer of 2007, a passenger was killed in a head-on wreck near Tarboro Road.

Also, that summer, a 34-year-old man was killed as he walked across the two-lane highway near the Glen Chris Lake subdivision.

In the summer of 2008, two people died in a head-on collision when a man was making an illegal pass.

In the summer of 2011, a 51-year-old motorcyclist was killed in a head-on crash.

In the fall of 2013, a woman was killed in a head-on crash near the Huntsburg subdivision.

Two more fatal wrecks were recorded in August and October 2017, when, respectively, a toddler was killed in what was reported as a road-rage incident, and a 54-year-old Youngsville man was killed when the vehicle he was driving hydroplaned and crashed into an oncoming vehicle -- about eight miles south of Louisburg.

Essentially, all of these wrecks were head-on collisions, or the kinds of conflict impacts that improvements to U.S. 401 are designed to mitigate.

According to the DOT, daily traffic for both sections of the highway is about 11,400 vehicles.

Nearly 21 million vehicles traveled the roadway in the five-year period for which the DOT provided The Franklin Times statistics.

From the Wake County line to Tarboro Road, there was one crash for every 187,432 vehicles that traveled through the intersection.

Section Two, from Tarboro Road to N.C. 56, the DOT reported one crash for every 64,445 vehicles that traveled through the intersection.

And, there doesn't seem to be any letup in sight.

From the Wake County line to Tarboro Road, the five-year high for reported accidents was 24 in 2018. The lowest number was 19.

From Tarboro Road to N.C. 56, there were 76 accidents reported in 2015 -- a five-year high. The fewest number during that time frame was about 50 this past year.

With growth in the county, there will be more motorists heading up and down the two-lane roadway.

Section C -- Construction to widen and turn U.S. 401 into a superhighway -- is currently underway.

And, delayed as it may be, construction to widen Section D will follow.

Like I said, the number of wrecks along U.S. 401 might not be the deadliest in the country, but they are bad enough.

I'll be happy when I'm driving on a much safer road.

And, I'll also be happier when I'm writing a column that highlights the reduction in deadly crashes along the highway.


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Members Opinions:
January 10, 2020 at 8:38pm
Don't forget the Dec. 14 wreck at Moores Pond Rd. and Hwy. 401. Although just south of the Franklin Co. line, a Louisburg resident was killed when an illegal alien ran a stop sign. I hope that the Wake Co. Sheriff doesn't prevent ICE from taking this criminal off our roads.



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