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EDITORIAL: Safety on highways depends on alert, defensive driving

With the weather warming up and the end of the school year nearing, more people will take to the highways as they head for graduations, vacations and other special events.

We want everyone to get to their destinations safely. To ensure that happens, we all must take precautions and drive defensively.

Unfortunately, the number of highway fatalities in Wyoming so far this year has more than doubled over last year. As of Friday, 28 people had died on Wyoming highways this year — 15 more than the 13 highway deaths recorded during the same time period in 2016. However, there have been fewer fatalities this year than in 2015, when crashes on Wyoming highways claimed the lives of 36 people by April 24.

Regardless of the year, nearly all traffic deaths are preventable.

A report from the Wyoming Department of Transportation with information about the first 19 fatalities this year shows roads were dry when all but four of those fatal crashes occurred. Contributing factors in the crashes covered by that report included speeding or driving too fast for conditions; following too close; overcorrecting steering; improper passing; failure to keep in the proper lane; disregarding signs or road markings; and running off the road.

Alcohol was involved in four of the 19 fatalities; drug use was a factor in five. Nine of the people who died were not using their seat belts.

While the report doesn’t indicate whether distracted driving was a factor in any of the fatal crashes, it’s a growing problem.

“New technology in vehicles is causing us to become more distracted behind the wheel than ever before,” says the National Safety Council.

With more vehicles sharing the roadways and more distractions competing for drivers’ attention, it’s important for all of us to pay attention to the task of driving and to drive safely and defensively. Some of the ways we can do that include:

  • Wear seat belts.
  • Obey speed limits.
  • Be aware of what is happening around you. Watch for potential safety hazards, such as a traffic jam ahead or a driver who is weaving in and out of lanes.
  • Don’t tailgate.
  • Slow down during bad weather and construction.
  • Don’t drink and drive; have a designated driver.
  • Don’t drive when you’re tired or sleepy.
  • Don’t text or use cell phones while driving.
  • Drive in one lane.
  • Don’t pass other vehicles on the highway needlessly just to save a minute or two.
  • Watch out for lane-changers.
  • Watch blind spots.

Remember, when we get behind the wheel, we are responsible for our own safety and that of our passengers, as well as the safety of others who share the highway with us. It is up to us to prevent accidents and to be aware of potential hazards that could compromise that safety.

1 comment

  • posted by Salty Dawg

    April 25, 2017 10:07 am

    Cell phones...the worst problem in vehicles...even cops do it.Who's gonna enforce the laws when the law is breaking the rules too?

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