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State officials: buckle up to make road death toll go down

November 26, 2018

LINCOLN - Fatalities from traffic crashes are up this year in Nebraska, prompting state officials to remind motorists about safety steps.

Fatalities from traffic wrecks are up around four-percent this year with more multiple fatality crashes than usual.

Highway Safety Administrator Fred Zwonechek says the quickest way to lower fatalities is to increase seat belt use. Now, 86% of Nebraska motorists are buckled up. The national average is 91%.

“So, we’ve got a ways to go, but we know if we can get those numbers up, get more people to buckle up, we can reduce our fatality numbers; cut those nearly in half,” Zwonechek tells Nebraska Radio Network.

Every 1% increase in seat belt use secures 18,000 Nebraska drivers and passengers. Buckling up is more than a catch phrase. It is important, according to Zwonechek, the surest way to reduce fatalities on the road. Zwonechek points out seven out of 10 people killed in highway crashes were not wearing their seat belts.

Zwonechek says the second most important step is to cut down on the number of impaired drivers.

“Both alcohol and drugs – and/or – people under the influence of drugs or alcohol; they make up about one out of three of our fatal collisions,” according to Zwonechek.

The number of pedestrians killed in traffic crashes is up this year, with no common denominator among those fatalities, according to Zwonechek. Six people have died at railroad crossing vehicle-train collisions.

There is some good news in the statistics. Motorcycle deaths are down and as of statistics collected prior to the Thanksgiving holiday, there have been no bicycle deaths this year.

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