- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Recent editorials from North Carolina newspapers:


Oct. 7

The Asheville Citizen-Times on ending accidents on roadways:

Its goal is to end deaths and serious injuries on our roads in 30 years.

In 2015, about 1,400 people died on state roads, which mirrors the 10-year average of 1,432 fatalities and 115,609 injuries from 2004-13.

The trend line has changed alarmingly this year. Last week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said U.S. traffic deaths rose 10.4 percent, to a total of about 17,700, in the first half of the year, far outstripping the 3.3 percent increase in the number of road miles traveled.

A couple of caveats are worth throwing out here. One, by historical trends, traffic deaths are still down considerably from totals commonly topping 50,000 in the 1960s and 1970s. That’s due largely to vastly improved safety features on today’s vehicles.

But more importantly, and back to Vision Zero’s goal, most deaths today are entirely avoidable.

Gov. Pat McCrory said, “My top priority as governor is to ensure the safety of everyone traveling throughout North Carolina. One life lost to a traffic accident is one too many.”

North Carolina Transportation Secretary Nick Tennyson added, “This is an ambitious goal, but it is not beyond our reach. Over the past 10 years, we have achieved 148 zero fatality days, including several consecutive days.”

Of the approximately 800 deaths this year, 100 were caused by distracted driving; alcohol was a factor in 168, speeding in 155. Nearly half the deaths involved people who weren’t wearing seatbelts.

So yes, this is a problem that can be broken down into manageable components to be attacked.

Vision Zero uses “Five Es,” including education, enforcement, emergency response, engineering solutions and the concept that everyone has a responsibility to make our roads safer.

The ncvisionzero.org website offers a wealth of data, breaking down incidents into every conceivable category, from pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities to accidents by county and region to tracking incidents by time of day.

This initiative isn’t restricted to North Carolina; it’s a nationwide push. Don Nail, director of the Governor’s Highway Safety Program, said a key component is getting people to really “start thinking about the personal responsibility that people have when they get behind the wheel.”

As transportation technology continues to improve and the specter of innovations such as driverless cars looms just over the horizon, we can expect the carnage on our roads to decrease.

But that’s no excuse to not act on the issues we can begin fixing in the here and now.

Zero may be an unattainable goal.

We won’t know if we don’t try.




Oct. 12

The Fayetteville Observer on helping neighbors after Hurricane Matthew:

Matthew is gone. Nothing but clear weather ahead, for a week or more. The floodwaters have ebbed, at least here. And many residents and businesses have power back.

That’s the good news. But there’s more than enough bad to go around: The damage is extensive and the losses are, for many people, staggering.

Matthew may be history, but the storm’s wreckage will be with us for a long, long time to come.

On Tuesday, there were more than 4,000 North Carolina residents in shelters, at least 1,200 in Robeson County alone.

The storm was doubly devastating for many home and business owners who don’t have flood insurance - for some, because of its cost, and others who simply didn’t believe they were susceptible to flooding. That’s reasonable when you’ve been through years of heavy rainstorms and even hurricanes and never seen floodwaters anywhere near your property.

But thanks to the president’s order designating this a disaster area, assistance is available from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Individuals and businesses who suffered flooding losses should register at DisasterAssistance.gov or call 800-621-FEMA.

Others who may need more basic help can start by getting free drinking water at the Walmarts in Spring Lake, Hope Mills and on South Raeford Road in Fayetteville. It’s also available in Fayetteville at the Seabrook Elementary School and the Spivey Recreation Center, and in Wade at the District 7 Elementary School.

And for those who came through the storm relatively unscathed, take a moment to be thankful. And then it’s time to step up and help neighbors who weren’t so fortunate. The Red Cross needs extra hands and is running a volunteer intake center at the Kiwanis Recreation Center on Devers Street in Fayetteville. The disaster-relief agency needs financial donations as well.

Donations to food banks, the Salvation Army and other agencies are welcome as well.

And you may find places to help out in your own neighborhood, assisting the people around you who are cleaning up storm damage or salvaging belongings damaged by floodwaters.

This is one of those times when we take the measure of the quality of the community and how it responds to its residents when their needs are greatest. It’s not just about the emergency responders or the government officials who do this as a part of their jobs. It’s about all of us, and how well we take care of our neighbors. It’s time to stand up and get it done.




Oct. 10

The News & Observer of Raleigh on the wrath of Hurricane Matthew:

North Carolinians watched anxiously as Hurricane Matthew formed, wreaked havoc in Haiti (over 400 dead) and then moved toward the United States. For a while, it appeared on some map forecasts that Matthew would turn sharply out to sea and drop some excessive rain on this state, but little more. But it did not make as sharp a right as hoped, and moved slowly off the coast, bringing damaging and deadly rain, 15 or 16 inches in some spots in Eastern North Carolina. Some surges were record-setting, and some towns were faced with devastating losses.

Some residents of the Triangle got calls from friends who lived along the coast, because the rain in this area was torrential, and, those coastal residents wondered, perhaps worse than some spots on the ocean’s edge. Indeed, even as a new week started in this area, many people were without power, and some roads remained blocked with downed trees. Matthew may have been downgraded in strength in the course of its march, but still it had severe consequences.

If the storm was a troubling inconvenience for many, it was a tragedy for others, and the death toll in North Carolina had not reached a final calculation two days after the storm passed. Two people had been killed in a submerged vehicle, another in an accident when a vehicle hydroplaned. Others were missing.

As is always the case, there were numerous stories of rescue, by emergency personnel and neighbors, and now begins the process of recovery. North Carolinians will, as they always do, help each other through the crises that await many in the storm’s aftermath.



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