Consistency not key for traffic deaths

Published 11:25 am Monday, March 6, 2017

We have all heard the age-old saying “Consistency is key.”

Admittedly, in most situations, consistency is comforting and helpful, except when it’s not.

There are some situations where we just shouldn’t be content with consistency.

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As the number of deaths on Kentucky’s roads has risen each of the last four years, Clark County’s numbers have remained consistent. Although it is good news to know we haven’t seen a steep increase in traffic fatalities, a trend of about half a dozen deaths each year is not one of which to be particularly proud.

According to statistics from the Kentucky State Police, Clark County recorded seven fatal accidents in 2016 and 2014. There were five in 2015, four in 2013 and six each in 2011 and 2012, the last years available on the KSP website.

In that same time span, Kentucky recorded 720 deaths in 2011, bottomed at 638 in 2013 before climbing annually to 835 deaths in 2016.

Last year’s deaths were the third most in Kentucky since 913 were recorded in 2006 and another 864 in 2007, according to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration.

In a recent column, Dr. Noelle Hunter, executive director of the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety, said more than half of those killed in 2016 were not wearing their seat belt. Twenty percent of the total involved an impairment factor.

The sad truth is, unfortunately, some traffic accidents and the subsequent fatalities just can’t be avoided. Many other factors contribute to driving safety, like the weather, conditions of the road, automobile malfunctions, animals or other road hazards.

However, many traffic accidents can be avoided by using some common sense and care on the road. We have to remember that when we are behind the wheel of a vehicle, there is so much more at stake than even our own safety. Every time we drive, we should be considerate of our passengers, other drivers and their passengers.

Simply being a more alert driver and avoiding distractions could mean the difference between life and death in some situations. Many things that contribute to making driving more safe are simply and quick: put your phone and other devices away, never drive when you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, leave enough room when following cars, drive slower and with more care in bad weather, wear your seat belt and adhere to speed limits.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Kentucky ranked eighth in 2015 with 17.2 deaths per 100,000 population. We can do better.

We can’t be content with being consistent any longer.

Let’s do more to protect ourselves, our neighbors and our loved ones on the road.