Jul 18, 2016 - Things to Do

Charlotte car wrecks hit a new high. Blame the economy

Car wrecks in Charlotte hit their highest levels since before the economic recession last year, new data from the city shows. The still-growing economy appears to be the most likely culprit — but there is some evidence that drivers are just worse.

Charlotte reported 27,648 accidents on city streets in 2015 (the numbers don’t include wrecks on interstates or private parking lots).

That’s up more than 20 percent from the year before — and the highest number Charlotte has seen perhaps ever in its history. The previous high-water mark came in 2008, just as the recession began. Wrecks have been increasing steadily each year for the past three.

Image via Charlotte Department of Transportation

Image via Charlotte Department of Transportation

Unsurprisingly, the collision data tracks closely with the total number of miles driven on Charlotte streets.


Image via Charlotte Department of Transportation

Image via Charlotte Department of Transportation

Interesting note: It looks like the number of miles driven today are roughly equivalent to (actually a hair below) 2006-2007 numbers. In the interim, Charlotte’s population has grown from about 670,000 to more than 800,000.

I’d like to believe this can be attributed to adoption of light rail and bicycle commuting, and I’m sure that plays a part. The increasing mobility of the workforce, where people can work from home, also likely plays a role.

Both wrecks and miles driven also correlate strongly with Charlotte’s economic fortunes. And this makes sense. More people working, more commerce being conducted leads to more drivers being on the roads. Population growth is also certainly a factor.

But the data also shows that crashes are growing faster than vehicle miles traveled. This past year’s crash rate per million miles traveled is the highest since 2003.

Image via Charlotte Department of Transportation

Other Charlotte car wreck facts:

  • October is the most dangerous month to be on the road, followed by December, then November.
  • Friday is the most dangerous day of the week, though only marginally higher than other weekdays. Saturday and Sunday are safer.
  • Wrecks peak at the 5 p.m. rush hour.
  • The most common cause of accidents is “inattention” at 17.4 percent. Yes, that includes texting while driving.

Here are the 10 most dangerous intersections in Charlotte.

Rankings are done based on the three-year total of accidents. Here’s the Agenda story on last year’s list. North College Street remains our city’s worst offender.


1) South Church at West Hill Street/I-277 ramp

Yes, this where Cam Newton had his wreck). But accidents actually decreased in 2015 after the city put in a huge new stop sign.

Accidents: 30
Average daily traffic: 9,800


2) Reagan Drive at Tom Hunter Road

Accidents: 28
Average daily traffic: 9,300


3) East 9th Street at North College Street

Accidents: 22
Average daily traffic: 7,600

4) East Sugar Creek Road at North Tryon Street

Accidents: 169
Average daily traffic: 64,000

5) East 8th Street at North College Street


Accidents: 16
Average daily traffic: 6,100

6) East 7th Street at North College Street

Accidents: 37
Average daily traffic: 14,400

7) Atando Avenue at Statesville Ave

Accidents: 80
Average daily traffic: 31,300

8) East 12th Street at North Davidson Street

Accidents: 54
Average daily traffic: 22,300

9) East 11th Street at North College Street

Accidents: 58
Average daily traffic: 24,000

10) Where 3rd Street, 4th Street and Kings Drive come together

Accidents: 110
Average daily traffic: 46,100


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