2012 is off to a deadly start on Nebraska roads.
The Nebraska State Patrol reports 19 people lost their lives in traffic accidents in January. Only eight deaths were recorded on Nebraska roads last January.
Blame it on the nice weather says Fred Zwonechek of the Nebraska Office of Highway Safety, who says drivers tend to become complacent during stretches of good weather in winter.
“As compared with normal, routine weather where you get snow and ice conditions; it’s cold, drivers are perhaps a little more sensitive to the environment and the roadway and tend to be a little slower,” Zwonechek tells Nebraska Radio Network.
One characteristic threads through most of the fatalities. Of the 19 people killed, 15 were not wearing their seat belts. The Office of Highway Safety estimates that the use of seat belts cuts the risk of death in a crash by as much as half.
Nebraska recorded 180 fatalities last year, the second lowest fatality rate since 1945 when 166 people were killed on Nebraska roads, according to the Nebraska State Patrol.
AUDIO: Brent Martin interviews Fred Zwonechek, Nebraska Office of Highway Safety [4 min]