Archive for Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Five questions: ‘Not accidents’

Kansas Highway Patrol troopers work the scene of a July 2011 fatality accident on U.S. Highway 24/40 in Leavenworth County.

Kansas Highway Patrol troopers work the scene of a July 2011 fatality accident on U.S. Highway 24/40 in Leavenworth County.

August 14, 2012, 3:12 p.m.

Updated: August 15, 2012, 12:00 a.m.

The Kansas Department of Transportation has started a campaign to drive home an important message: Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for people ages 4 through 35 and should be considered a public health crisis. Here’s what KDOT Secretary Mike King had to say:

Q: Why the new public information campaign?

A: We want to make people aware of the fact that these tragedies are not accidents. They are violent, and they are preventable.

Q: How bad is the roadway fatality crisis?

A: We are losing nearly 400 people every year, and if that many people were dying from a single disease, we’d be doing something about it.”

Q: Why don’t fatality accidents cause more concern?

A: Safety advocates say that when people see only a few crashes in their immediate community, they miss the magnitude of the situation. That’s why they have developed a graphic to announce the statewide year-to-date fatalities. The data, along with a few relevant statistics, will be updated monthly on www.KTSRO.org.

Q: What is causing so many fatalities?

A: It’s not just cell phones and texting, although that is the issue making the biggest headlines lately. Drivers have to be aware of speed, weather conditions, construction deer and so much more. ... Add alcohol, which despite all our prevention efforts is still a factor in about a third of all fatality crashes, and you have an even bigger problem.

Q: Is there hope?

A: There is a glimmer. The year-to-date fatalities through June totaled 180, which is a drop of about 13 percent from the past 10 years’ average.

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