Lane Departure


The consequences of a vehicle leaving its travel lane can be severe, sometimes resulting in serious injury or death, as errant vehicles can strike roadside objects, collide with other vehicles, or overturn. More than half of all traffic fatalities in North Carolina are attributed to lane departure crashes. Because North Carolina has the second-largest State-maintained road system in the US—approximately 80,000 miles—finding a balance between spot-safety improvements and systemic applications is critical to address this issue across such an expansive network.


Notable Facts

  • From 2009 – 2013, an average of 740 lives were lost each year in a lane departure crash.
  • In 2012, nearly 1 in every 4 crashes and 3 in 5 traffic fatalities in North Carolina involved a vehicle leaving its lane of travel.

Emphasis Area Goal

In 2013, there were 737 fatalities and 1,137 serious injuries resulting from lane departure crashes. The goal for this emphasis area is to reduce lane departure-related fatalities and serious injuries.


  • Keep vehicles on the roadway.
  • Reduce the potential for crashes when vehicles leave the roadway.
  • Reduce the severity of crashes that do occur when vehicles leave the roadway.
  • Support and enhance driver education and awareness programs.

Indicators of Progress

  • Number of miles of new paved shoulders.
  • Number of miles of Safety Edge treatment.
  • Number of miles of new guardrail.

Potential Implementing Agencies

  • Governor’s Highway Safety Program
  • North Carolina Department of Public Instruction
  • North Carolina Department of Transportation
See Appendix G for the Lane Departure Action Plan.