SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Deaths on the Road
By Commissioners Marc Luiken & Joe Masters


July 29, 2011

Over the past seven days there have been six traffic deaths on the Kenai Peninsula. Our hearts go out to the families and loved ones of those involved. Their lives will never be the same. As Commissioners, we receive death notifications which informs us of the basics of every traffic crash in Alaska. It is especially heartbreaking when a small child has died. This is a part of our job that we will never get used to.

As of July 25th Alaska had 40 fatalities recorded for the calendar year; nearly a dozen more than by the same time in 2009 and 2010. Preliminary reports of the 2011 traffic fatalities show that unsafe speed played a role in 26%, driver alcohol was suspected in 20%, and driver inattention was involved in 11%. Please take the time to read and more importantly, pass on the following advice to everyone you know:

Remember to travel at a safe speed; the faster you drive, the greater is the risk of having a fatal crash. You will perceive obstacles, or potential hazards with a greatly reduced window of correction time. If your speed is great enough, you will be at the impact point before you are aware of an obstacle.

It is a fact that a large number of highway crashes are caused by individuals driving impaired. Impairment by alcohol, drugs or any medication can reduce your effectiveness as a proficient driver. Perception and reaction time is seriously reduced by such impairments and is responsible for many crashes that could otherwise have been avoided.

Don't drive fatigued. Fatigued driving is a common cause of fatal highway crashes. Drivers have actually fallen asleep at the wheel, and have caused serious damage to themselves and to others. If you are tired, find a safe place to stop and to rest; continuing to drive once you are seriously fatigued is a very serious risk and the problem will not improve without sleep.

Don't drive distracted. It is illegal to text while driving in Alaska, but there are many other forms of distraction, from talking on a cell phone to eating food. Even a heated conversation will seriously diminish your concentration and is an extremely dangerous driving hazard. Loud music can encourage you to drive faster, without realizing your actual speed. When you are driving your attention should be focused on the road around you, and the immediate task of operating your vehicle. You should also pay careful attention to the driving intentions of the other drivers around you. In other words, drive defensively.

Department of Transportation & Public Facilities Commissioner Marc Luiken
Department of Public Safety Commissioner Joe Masters
Anchorage, AK

Received July 26, 2011 - Published July 29, 2011



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