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Alaska sees 34 percent increase in motor vehicle traffic fatalities in 2016


November 23, 2016
Wednesday AM

(SitNews) Juneau, Alaska - Motor vehicle traffic fatalities are on the rise this year in Alaska, and the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (ADOT&PF) would like to remind travelers to drive with care as the holidays approach.

As of Nov. 21st Alaska has had 75 traffic fatalities in 69 fatal crashes in 2016, according to the ADOT&PF Alaska Highway Safety Office. This compares to 56 fatalities in 53 fatal crashes for the same date in 2015.

Traffic fatalities are on the rise nationally, as well. Preliminary data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show traffic fatalities rose by 10.4 percent in the first half of 2016 compared to the first half of 2015.

jpg Alaska sees 34 percent increase in motor vehicle traffic fatalities in 2016

Graph showing the number of motor vehicle traffic fatalities in Alaska in recent years.
Graph courtesy Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities

According to NHTSA, it is too soon to conclude what is causing this nationwide increase, but many point to a dramatic increase in the number of miles driven in recent years stemming from lower fuel prices and to the proliferation of drivers using smartphones or other technology while driving.

According to the Alaska Highway Safety Office, driver behavior contributed to about 75 percent of traffic fatalities in Alaska on average in recent years. The office’s data show these behaviors include impaired driving, speeding, and non-use and/or improper use of restraints, such as seatbelts.

The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities reminds Alaskans to follow safe driving practices. These include driving for conditions, using seat belts and headlights, not driving while impaired, and staying back from snow and ice removal equipment.

According to the Alaska Department of Public Safety, distracted driving is a dangerous epidemic on America's roadways. In 2009 alone, nearly 5,500 people were killed and 450,000 more were injured in distracted driving crashes. You're 23x more likely to crash if you text while driving according to the Alaska Public Safety Department.

The Alaska Legislature passed a law in 2012 making it illegal to send or read a text message while you are driving.

Chart courtesy Alaska Department of Public Safety

The Alaska Department of Public Stafety has also announced a Thanksgiving Click It or Ticket Campaign. One way to avoid a road-side chat with law enforcement this holiday season is as simple as buckling up! The Alaska State Troopers will be out conducting extra traffic enforcement efforts to ensure the safety of Alaskans while they celebrate the Thanksgiving Holiday. While patrols will be focused on seat belt enforcement, troopers will also watch for impaired driving, speeding, aggressive driving, and distracted driving. The intention of the focused enforcement is to bring the number of major-injury or fatal collisions on Alaska’s roads down to zero.

Regardless of what your ultimate plans are for Thanksgiving, Troopers encourage you to always practice safe driving behaviors on the roads while traveling to and from your destination. If you are in a vehicle, you should always wear your seatbelt and encourage those around you to do the same. Children in vehicles should be properly restrained using the appropriate safety equipment whether it be a seatbelt, a booster seat or a car seat.

Troopers encourage everyone to Report Every Dangerous Driver Immediately (REDDI Alert) by calling 9-1-1.

The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities also urges drivers to visit or call 511 to check road conditions before traveling.



Reporting & Editing by Mary Kauffman, SitNews


Source of News:

The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities

Alaska Department of Public Safety




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