In an especially deadly year on area roads and highways, 47 people died in or after collisions and other car accidents in Tuscaloosa County in 2021, according to data gathered by the Tuscaloosa Thread.

Representatives from the Tuscaloosa Police Department, the Northport Police Department and the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency all provided the Thread with data on the deadly wrecks that took place within their jurisdictions last year.

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A captain with the Tuscaloosa County Sheriff's Office said deputies did not investigate any fatal accidents last year because virtually all road deaths that occur in their jurisdiction are handled by one of the three aforementioned agencies.

Stephanie Taylor, the public information officer for TPD, said their officers responded to 12 deadly wrecks that left 15 total victims dead last year.

Keith Carpenter, the assistant chief of the Northport Police Department, said his officers responded to six fatal collisions and that two pedestrians also died after being struck by vehicles in the Northport city limits.

Carpenter, who also provided data for 2020 and 2019, said last year was the deadliest of the three -- Northport police responded to two fatal crashes in 2019 and five in 2020. No pedestrians were killed in either of those years.

Trooper Reginal King, an ALEA spokesperson in West Alabama, said the state investigated 24 traffic fatalities in the county that occurred outside TPD or NPD jurisdiction.

The two deadliest accidents last year both claimed three lives -- two adults and an infant were killed on the interstate in early April, and two people were killed in an early morning accident on University Boulevard in September that later caused the death of a third victim.

"Most of the accidents we work are usually caused by either speeding, distracted, impaired or otherwise reckless driving," TPD Chief Brent Blankley said. "Even if you’re observing the speed limit and driving carefully yourself, be aware of what other drivers are doing so you can react if you need to."

Chief Blankley also said no issue on the road is too small to report to police to help ensure the safety of drivers and pedestrians in the area.

"We encourage people to call us with a vehicle description and direction of travel when they see reckless driving," he said. "A caller recently reported another driver who was asleep at a red light on Hargrove Road -- an officer who was close by was able to locate the car and helped the driver receive medical attention."

So far in 2022, law enforcement agencies have reported only one fatal wreck, although the accident on McFarland Boulevard in Northport claimed two lives.

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