Shared by IRPO–Seat Belt Surveys Underway, Trouble Spots Concerning

Seat Belt Surveys Underway, Trouble Spots Concerning
  RALEIGH – The North Carolina Governor’s Highway Safety Program (NCGHSP) is working with researchers this month to determine the statewide official seat belt use rate.

“Researchers will be observing several areas, primarily our larger metropolitan: Mecklenburg County which has experienced a sharp decline of nearly eight percent,” said Mark Ezzell, NCGHSP Director.

Researchers with N.C. State’s Institute for Transportation Research and Education will be conducting roadside surveys now through the end of the month across 120 randomly selected sites; observing belted and unbelted drivers and passengers.

Last year’s statewide seat belt usage rate was 88.4 percent, which was down from 91.3% the previous year. In 2017 the rate stood at 91.4%.

“While this three-year trend is still above the average of many states, a slight decline in numbers reflects thousands of individuals who are simply choosing not to protect themselves and others around them,” said Ezzell.

Fast facts:
If you’re ejected from a vehicle in a crash, odds are that you will not survive. In 2018, 84% of the people totally ejected from passenger vehicles in crashes were killed.

Wearing your seat belt is the most effective way to prevent ejection; only 1% of passenger vehicle occupants wearing seat belts were ejected in fatal crashes, compared to 33% of those who were unrestrained.

Previous studies indicate that women buckle up more than men and people between the ages of 45 and 64 lead the way in seat belt usage.

Males are more likely than females to be unrestrained in fatal crashes.

Younger people continue to be overrepresented in fatal crashes and seat belt nonuse. In North Carolina those between the ages of 16 and 24 are most at risk.

Of the 100 counties around the state, 15 have the most unstable rates:

“As we approach the month of October, which is by far the deadliest month on our roadways, we need people to start buckling up again and ultimately reduce the injuries and deaths in motor vehicle crashes we are seeing,” said Ezzell.

Seat belt use rate results are necessary to qualify for federal seat belt incentive grants. Those federal funds are used for initiatives that support the elimination of preventable roadway deaths across North Carolina.

We want to hear from North Carolina drivers and passengers who decided to buckle up and prevented serious injury or death in a vehicle crash.

If the seat belt has saved your life post your story on social media with a picture and tag @NCGHSP on Facebook or @NC_GHSP on Twitter and Instagram for recognition.


Shared by IRPO: Going Green: New Signal System Helps I-26 Alternate Routes

NCDOT utilizing new incident corridor management twice this week

ASHEVILLE – New directional signs from Hendersonville to Asheville sprouted this year as part of an innovative signal system designed to guide drivers around major incidents on Interstate 26. 

N.C. Department of Transportation crews installed signs and upgraded signal systems along I-26 alternate routes such as Asheville Highway and Hendersonville Road as part of a new Incident Corridor Management System. The system will be activated for the first time, thankfully in a non-emergency situation, on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. 

“We’re fortunate to have so many engineers and technicians put so much time and energy into developing a system that will help thousands of people driving the I-26 corridor,” said Chad Franklin, Regional Information Traffic System Engineer. “We’re happy to use the system for the first time in a non-emergency situation. It’s like a dress rehearsal.”

Rolling roadblocks with delays up to 30 minutes on I-26 in Henderson County between U.S. 64 and U.S. 25 Business are scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday in the westbound lanes, and 7 p.m. Wednesday for eastbound lanes. The rolling roadblocks will allow contract crews to safely place girders for a new bridge on Clear Creek Road over I-26. 

Asheville Highway will serve as an alternate route on both nights. The new ICM system will provide longer green lights on Asheville Highway, giving drivers the choice to wait on I-26 during the rolling roadblock or to take the alternate route with more green light time. 
“We hope drivers choose to take the alternate route and use the new ICM on Tuesday and Wednesday night,” Franklin said. “It should provide drivers with a quicker route around construction and will provide us with feedback on how to improve all of the timing.”

NCDOT engineers developed the ICM system to direct local, commercial and emergency traffic to alternate routes between Hendersonville and Asheville in case of an emergency such as an extended closure of I-26 between I-40 and U.S 64. 

Transportation officials in Raleigh or at the Mountain Regional Traffic Management Center can remotely initiate the system in a matter of minutes, activate the digital signs and change signal timing to allow more vehicles through signals along the detour routes.

For example, signals on Hendersonville Road (U.S. 25), Long Shoals Road, Airport Road, Brevard Road, or Haywood Road (N.C. 191) would remain green for an extended time period while side streets remain red longer to allow the detoured traffic to flow better along the alternate route. 

“Our traffic and signal teams have put in a lot of time and technical work to design and implement this important system,” Franklin said. “We’re very fortunate to have this specialized system in Western North Carolina.”

For real-time travel information, visit or follow NCDOT on social media.


Joint TCC and TAC Meeting

The RPO will hold a joint TCC and TAC meeting on September 2, 2020, at 1:00 PM by Zoom. The agendas are here: TCC and TAC.

Anyone who would like to attend is welcome to call:

US: +1 312 626 6799 or +1 646 558 8656 or +1 301 715 8592 or +1 346 248 7799 or +1 669 900 9128 or +1 253 215 8782

If you have a comment, please email it to by 9:00 AM, September 2nd, 2020.

Rutherford County’s Thermal Belt Rail Trail receives Two Honorable Mentions in the 2020 NCDOT Mobi Awards!

Tourism Honorable Mention: Thermal Belt Rail Trail: Connecting Great Small Towns

Most Voted Honorable Mention: Thermal Belt Rail Trail: Connecting Great Small Towns

The N.C. Department of Transportation honored communities today that developed the state’s best multimodal projects, including a public transportation service in Shelby and a bridge with a multi-use path connecting Surf City to Topsail Island.

The NCDOT Mobi Awards, which started last year, honor transportation projects that improve the economy and enhance the quality of life in North Carolina communities. Projects had to combine the use of at least two transportation modes such as aviation, bicycle, pedestrian, ferry, public transportation, rail and roadway.

More than 60 projects competed in this year’s NCDOT Mobi Awards.   “Whether we’re building bike and walking paths, making it more convenient for people to use public transportation or finding new ways to safely accommodate travelers on our highways, multimodal projects are an important piece of our transportation present and future,” said state Transportation Secretary Eric Boyette. “And it’s why we’re here today – to celebrate your commitment to multimodal investments and the important role they play in our way of life.”   Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s Mobi Awards were presented virtually and are available on NCDOT’s YouTube Channel

Judges selected winners and honorable mentions from the following categories: Rural, Urban, Tourism and Innovation. For a new category, Most Voted Project, all this year’s entries were placed online so the public could vote for a First-Place winner and an honorable mention.  

The 2020 NCDOT Mobi Book, which has detailed descriptions and pictures of all this year’s entries, can be found online.  

Judges selected this year’s top projects based on how well projects leveraged public and private investment, contributed to economic development, created long-term jobs, improved public health and quality of life, and made other significant contributions.   The event’s organizers were NCDOT, the North Carolina Triangle Chapter of Women’s Transportation Seminar, N.C. Go!, and N.C. State University Institute for Transportation Research and Education.

Shared by IRPO–I-26 Traffic Moving to New Lanes

Westbound traffic shifting prior to Brevard Road

ASHEVILLE – Thousands of drivers heading into Asheville will be cruising on a brand new section of interstate starting Thursday morning.
A contractor for the N.C. Department of Transportation will shift traffic on westbound Interstate 26 to newly constructed outside lanes prior to Brevard Road (Exit 33) on Wednesday night, weather permitting. 

The shift will allow crews from Blythe Development to completely rehabilitate the current existing lanes. This phase of the $47.4 million project to improve the I-26/Brevard Road interchange will involve removing the existing asphalt, building new concrete lanes, constructing a median wall and improving the drainage.

Completion of the project will result in new bridges on Brevard Road over the interstate and four lanes in each direction on I-26. It will align with the current I-26 widening project from Henderson County to this project.

Transportation officials remind drivers to drive alert, obey all posted signs and slow down in work zones. 

For real-time travel information, visit or follow NCDOT on social media.


Shared by IRPO–As a Reminder: Get Involved with Great Trails State Plan!!

What trails do you use and like most? What would make that experience better? What are the most important new trail connections that should be made?

The N.C. Department of Transportation wants to hear from the public about North Carolina’s trails and how to make them better.

The public can give feedback two ways by taking an interactive map survey and a 10-question survey. Participants are encouraged to take both surveys below.

10-Question Survey

Interactive Map Survey

An overview of the Great Trails State Plan effort!