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Sheriff’s office releases annual fatality wreck data
FCN Fatal Wreck 1 102618
Forsyth County Coroner Lauren McDonald, center, talks with Forsyth County Sheriff Ron Freeman, right, and a sheriff's deputy at the site of a fatal wreck on Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2018, on Jot Em Down Road. - photo by Brian Paglia

Recently, the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office released their annual statistics for fatality and serious injury wrecks that occurred in the county during 2018, comparing them to similar statistics from 2017.

According to their numbers, 16 fatality wrecks occurred in 2018, a slight rise from the 13 that occurred in 2017. They note that one wreck from 2017 resulted in three fatalities bringing the yearly total to 15 for 2017 and 16 for 2018.

Their statistics also show a slight decrease in the serious injury wrecks that occurred within the county during the last year, with 20 in 2017 and 17 in 2018.

According to Cpl. Kevin Pittman, supervisor of the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office traffic unit, using these statistics and data from minor wrecks, the sheriff’s office is able to look at the state of the county each quarter, and pivot their prevention and enforcement tactics to fit what is happening on the ground.

“Their main goal is to reduce accidents, fatalities and injuries through education and enforcement,” Pittman said. “So they use that to both go out and target high crash areas, as well as going out to teach high school age kids, parents and different clubs that request us.”

Pittman said that with the increasing numbers of motorists on Forsyth County streets, logically they expect to see more wrecks on local roads and highways.

“With the increased amount of people year by year, we're really going to have to continue to step up our enforcement,” he said. “It's absolutely essential to have units that are strictly dedicated to traffic education and traffic enforcement.

As would surprise no-one, Pittman also stated that they continue to see more wrecks on state routes and major roads, during the afternoon rush hours where people are coming home from work and school.

Sheriff’s office data states that the majority of fatal accidents in the county involve impairment from drugs or alcohol, speeding, aggressive driving, other traffic offenses like failure to yield and following too closely, or a combination of multiple factors.

“As you can see from the data, our fatalities are at a number that it should be zero … So we need to combat that through enforcement and education,” he said.

Pittman also said that they normally see a large number of minor to serious wrecks that are caused by distracted drivers, using devices. But since the Georgia Hands-Free bill was written into law, tightening the laws on distracted driving, they have seen a dip in their numbers.

“This new hands-free law has made it very easy for officers to enforce distracted driving walls,” he said. “It makes it very easy for officers to stop that violator and address the behavior.”