Last year, 242 people died on Nebraska roads, up from 225 in 2014 and up considerably from 2011 when there were 181 fatalities.
State Safety Administrator Fred Zwonechek says many of those deaths could have been prevented.
“There’s a lot we can do to prevent them,” Zwonechek tells Nebraska Radio Network. “It’s making sure everybody is sober and not impaired, not distracted, and bucked up; make sure that you are driving defensively.”
A few oddities emerge in the numbers, numbers that Zwonechek is poring over.
Seventy-four of the fatalities occurred within city limits, the highest number of deaths within a municipality in 30 years. Seventy-three fatalities occurred in rollover accidents. Twenty-six people died in motorcycle wrecks, compared to 20 in 2014. Eighteen pedestrians were killed last year, compared to nine in 2014.
It is difficult to pinpoint a common factor that led to the pedestrian deaths, according to Zwonechek, but rather easy to pinpoint a common factor in the overall increase in highways deaths. Seven out of 10 people involved in fatal collisions were not wearing their seat belts.
Zwonechek says a growing problem is driving while distracted, either because the driver is texting, talking on the cell phone, or dialing.
“It’s just one of those things, you cannot be delusional and think that you are safe either talking, texting, dialing, whatever it is; you are behind the wheel. Behind the wheel, you’re primary responsibility is to drive.”
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:45]