Archive for Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Automobile accidents avoidable

October 8, 2008

The most dangerous thing most of us will do today is get into a car or truck to go to work, the store, to school or to run errands.

As proof, consider that last year, 416 lives were lost in Kansas traffic crashes. Nearly 23,000 others were injured — many of those suffering permanent, life-changing injuries. The year before, the numbers were even worse.

On October 10 — Put the Brakes on Fatalities Day — we urge all Kansans to consider the seriousness of driving and take the steps necessary to assure that they and their families arrive where they are going safely. Among the simplest steps are to wear a seatbelt and insist that everyone in the vehicle buckle up, slow down, pay attention and don't drive if you've been drinking. Consider these 2007 statistics:

· Despite the proven and accepted safety benefits of seatbelts, more than 60 percent of those who lost their lives on Kansas highways weren't buckled in. Kansas has one of the lowest rates in the country for seatbelt usage.

· Inattention was cited in 25 percent of all crashes — the most commonly-listed of all contributing circumstances. The increasing use of cell phones and text messaging while driving is making the situation worse.

· Nearly a quarter of all fatalities were speed-related and more than a quarter were alcohol-related.

In 2001, a Kansas Department of Transportation employee originated Put the Brakes on Fatalities Day to increase awareness of highway deaths. It became a national observation and we're proud that it began in Kansas. The organizer never expected that we could select a day and realistically believe there would be no traffic fatalities — but wouldn't it be nice. Rather, he hoped that drivers would take a moment or more to think about their driving and take some simple steps that will enhance their safety.

So on October 10, if you're not already doing so, take a moment to buckle up. Take an extra moment to look again for motorcyclists, bicyclists, pedestrians and oncoming traffic. Take a moment to consider the consequences of driving impaired. Take a moment to remind yourself to drive attentively and to stay within the speed limit. And take a moment to think about the people who are counting on you to arrive at your destination safely.

Because a moment is all it takes for lives to be forever changed.

To learn more about Put the Brakes on Fatalities, safe driving and how you can be involved, visit www.brakesonfatalities.org.

— Kansas Secretary of Transportation Deb Miller and Kansas Highway Patrol Col. Terry Maple

— Kansas Secretary of Transportation Deb Miller and Kansas Highway Patrol Col. Terry Maple

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