There were more than 240 pedestrian and 19 bicyclist deaths in North Carolina in 2019 — 15 percent of all traffic fatalities on the state’s roadways. Those are numbers that a regional initiative is aiming to curb.

As the N.C. Department of Transportation kicks off its 2020 “Watch for Me NC” campaign, drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists will see increased awareness campaigns and safety messages to better educate those using our roads about relevant laws and safe behaviors.

Those messages are being heard especially in the mountains, with new community partnerships educating officers and the public to proactively prevent or reduce bicycle and pedestrian injuries and deaths.

Beyond the fatality statistics, each year more than 3,000 pedestrians and 850 bicyclists are hit by vehicles in North Carolina. Those numbers make North Carolina one of the least safe states in the nations for walking and bicycling.

We all have a part in making sure our roads are safe — drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists, alike. Taking such responsibility is more challenging in the mountains, with our winding, narrow roads, but vigilance, courtesy and education can make the difference. And in North Carolina, especially in the mountains, that difference is a matter of life and death.

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