Robeson County traffic deaths trend upward

Traffic deaths continue to be higher across Robeson County this year, officials announced Thursday.

There have been 52 roadway deaths through Sept. 30, according to the N.C. Department of Transportation’s Traffic Safety Unit. That compares to 42 deaths for the same nine-month period last year. There was a total of 53 traffic deaths in the county for all of 2020.

Grady Hunt, who leads the Robeson County Vision Zero task force and is a member of the N.C. Board of Transportation, addressed the newly released traffic data Thursday during a virtual meeting of the task force.

“This is sobering news that reminds us we mustn’t let our guard down, but continue to work together and try to save more lives,” Hunt said.

The task force has been working since 2018 to improve driver safety and lower traffic deaths. 

The amount of people killed in crashes while not wearing seat belts in the county this year – 53% — is on par with last year, according to data from NCDOT’s Traffic Safety Unit. However, 31% of deadly crashes this year have involved excessive speeding, compared with 19% for the same period last year.

Clergy Outreach Program

The task force is reaching out to more churches to help save lives. Earlier this month, handwritten notes of appreciation went to dozens of churches, letting pastors know about the Robeson County Vision Zero mission and call to help from the faith-based community.

Rev. Ray Beale, D. Min, who is the associate pastor at The Gathering Church in Durham with more than 20 years of experience in pastoral care and consulting, wrote the personal notes in recognition of national Pastor Appreciation Day on Oct. 10. She began this summer leading the clergy outreach effort for the task force.

“We are caring about the safety and well-being of one another, and by our faith, we know the good Lord cares about us, our health and how we treat and look after one another,” Beale said during  Thursday’s virtual meeting. 

Beale said she would hand deliver notes to pastors during her travels to the county. It will take time, she said, to make more personal connections with them and visit their houses of worship. She said she wants to encourage congregations to look outside their four walls and reach out to help their community in spreading traffic safety messages.

Beale traveled to Lumberton following the meeting to meet with a group of clergy who represent several denominations.

Hunt said he also would continue to urge the faith-based community to become more involved about how people can be safer on the road.



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