The Blue Ridge Parkway is not only more popular, having serviced about a million more visitors in 2014 than in 2013, but it is also experiencing more motor vehicle accidents.
According to a report compiled by the law enforcement division on the parkway, there were 313 motor vehicle accidents in 2014, up nearly 13 percent from 277 accidents in 2013, said Neal Labrie, the parkway’s chief ranger who oversees all ranger and law enforcement activities in the park.
“There was a statistically relevant increase overall in motor vehicle accidents,” Labrie said. “But we do know that visitation was also up in 2014.”
The 469-mile-long park, which stretches from Cherokee in North Carolina to Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, had 13.9 million visitors in 2014, up from 12.8 million visitors. For many years the parkway, which is headquartered in Asheville, was the most visited of all 400 national park sites in the nation, but it fell to the No. 2 spot last year behind Golden Gate Recreation Area in San Francisco.
Most of the accidents involved one vehicle (188) or one motorcycle (87), although there were 34 accidents involving two cars and 10 accidents involving a car and a motorcyle. There were two accidents that involved a car and a bicycle. Labrie said the accidents were pretty well spaced out across the North Carolina and Virginia sections of parkway. The cause of many of the accidents was excessive speed and driver inattention.
There were three deaths from motor vehicle accidents last year, up from one in 2013. The fatalities in 2014 occurred at Mileposts 201, 394 and 463.
Out of the motor vehicle accidents, 86 involved personal injury and 208 were property-damage only.