Introduces Legislation Allowing Creation of Highway Safety Corridors
February 01, 2006
The governor emphasized that, based on the experience of other states with a primary seat belt law, SB 87 will save lives -- an average of six lives per year. It is also estimated the new law will prevent about 70 serious injuries per year, and reduce the cost of publicly funded medical care by about $12 million annually.
"Some Alaskans are alive today because we have a seat belt law and they were buckled up when they crashed," Murkowski said. "It's a responsible law and is working the way it was expected to work when it was passed in the late 1980's. Now, we believe that by making the change in law to a primary offense, we will see an increase in seat belt usage and we will see a drop in the number of fatalities on our highways. I want to especially thank Sen. Con Bunde for his efforts to secure passage of this bill."
Murkowski also announced the introduction of a bill that would allow the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities to designate a portion of a state highway as a "traffic safety corridor." Such designation, identified by signs at each end and throughout the corridor, would allow imposition of double traffic fines for violations within the corridor.
The bill is being introduced principally in response to public concern over the high rates of accidents and fatalities that have taken place on the Seward Highway between Potter and Girdwood over the past several years.
The Department of Public Safety, Division of State Troopers, and DOT&PF have already begun an effort to increase driver awareness on the Seward Highway. In addition to increased Trooper presence, DOT&PF has deployed variable message signs to warn motorists of highway surface conditions, "smart carts" to show drivers their actual speed, and florescent orange flags on speed limit signs to remind drivers of posted limits.
"The Seward Highway is not an inherently more dangerous stretch of road than any other, but is made dangerous by the driving practices of some drivers," Murkowski said. "Between Potter and Girdwood we have had a total of 1,500 crashes between 2001 and 2004. Of these, 85 were alcohol-related, and 294 involved excessive speed. The measures we have recently begun should have a positive effect in this corridor, as will the bill we are introducing today."
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