January 06, 2009
As of Dec. 31, 2008, there were 63 traffic fatalities statewide, compared with 82 in 2007. Fatal and major injuries have been on a mostly downward trend since 2003, although they ticked upward in 2007. The Seward Highway has seen a 77 percent reduction in fatal and major injury crashes since the establishment of a safety corridor in May 2006. The Parks Highway safety corridor has resulted in 37 percent decrease. The combination of double fines, reduced speed limits and increased enforcement has made the designation of safety corridors a successful tool in reducing injuries and death.
"We are pleased with the decreased number of traffic deaths this year, however 63 fatalities is still 63 too many," said Cindy Cashen, DOT&PF's Alaska Highway Safety Office Administrator.
"Impaired driving is the number one behavioral factor in traffic crashes. Eighteen lives were needlessly lost in 2008 due to alcohol-related crashes," Cashen said.
While impaired driving remains a problem, drivers on Alaska's roads are buckling up at the highest percentage ever.
"Our 2008 seatbelt survey showed that 84.9 percent of Alaskan motorists wore seatbelts, and our 2009 New Year's resolution will be to attain an 88 percent seatbelt usage," said DOT&PF Commissioner Leo von Scheben.
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