CHARLOTTE, N.C. — World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims is commemorated on the third Sunday of November each year. Over 42,000 people died in traffic crashes in the U.S. in 2021 and 2022 is shaping to be an even deadlier year, according to the National Safety Council.
The city of Charlotte honored all of those who lost their lives while traveling on its roads. At the same time working towards making the roads safer for all users.
Sunday afternoon, 205 pairs of shoes were put on display at first ward park this afternoon.
Each pair represents the lives lost in the streets of Charlotte between 2019 and 2021, in traffic crashes.
David Counter spoke to attendees in memory of Valerie Lee Strode.
“She was my wife, my soulmate and above all my best friend. All of this vanished when her life was extinguished in a moment of madness by the thoughtless acts of one individual, an act too common on our roads today,” Counter said.
The families are connected by the tragedy of losing a loved one.
“On this World Day of Remembrance we remember solemnly that we are not alone in this pain but that it is shared by far too many,” he continued.
Family members placed yellow flowers near a pair of shoes in honor of their loved ones as their names are read out loud.
“My heart has a huge hole in it," Melissa Alsup said. “I miss calling her every day and I miss her calling me and saying I love you, mama.”
Her daughter died in a crash on I-85 in December 2020.
“Kara was a beautiful 25-year-old who lost her life too soon. She had a heart of gold and would do anything for a stranger,” she said.
City leaders and CLT Vision Zero advocates are recommitting their efforts to eliminate traffic deaths in the city of Charlotte
Chief Johnny Jennings for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department said one traffic death is one too many.
“Each of us that gets into our 2000 pound vehicles to get to a destination has a responsibility to make sure that we keep our community safe,” Jennings said.
He adds CMPD is committed to working with community leaders to reduce traffic violence.
“As we continue to grow, we need to make sure that we continue to make our streets safer. And that we are tracking those fatalities, those traffic accidents and that we are putting things in place to make the streets safer,” Jennings said.
“Ending traffic deaths requires a systematic approach that includes education, personal accountability, consistent and equitable enforcement of traffic laws and streets designed for safety,” Shannon Binns, the Executive Director for Sustain Charlotte, said.
He adds there have been improvements made in the Queen City like investments in infrastructure to reduce speed, pedestrian crossing beacons and protected bike lanes.
However, the work is far from complete.
“We have the power to tell our local and state leaders that these investments matter because the lives of loved ones matter,” Binns said. "They matter more than speeding to a destination or running a red light to save just a few minutes. And we have seen that when we stand and ask for safer streets progress is made.”
It’s a sentiment Counter agrees with.
“We should redouble our efforts to increase road safety and ensure that each year we display fewer and fewer shoes until ultimately there are no fatalities to represent,” Counter said.
Flashpoint is a weekly in-depth look at politics in Charlotte, North Carolina, South Carolina, and beyond with host Ben Thompson. Listen to the podcast weekly.
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