Some new problems have arisen to make our highways more deadly, but the top highway safety official in the state insists an old remedy remains the surest way to make our highways safer.
Drowsy and distracted driving are real hazards, according to state Highway Safety Administrator Fred Zwonechek. And while Zwonechek says drivers need to get their rest and put down their cell phones, his number one recommendation remains: buckle up.
“If we could get everybody to buckle up in passenger vehicles, we could probably reduce our fatalities overnight in half,” Zwonechek tells Nebraska Radio Network.
A rash of highway deaths over the weekend and into Monday killed six people. A fiery crash on I-80 earlier this month killed five members of a Minnesota family. A sixth person died of his injuries later.
The spike in fatalities this month has brought the total dead on Nebraska highways to 140 just prior to the long Labor Day holiday weekend, still behind the total of 149 for the same period last year. But, the gap between this year and last year has narrowed. Prior to the long Memorial Day holiday weekend, there had been 66 fatalities reported from traffic wrecks on Nebraska roadways, far below the 96 recorded during that same period a year ago.
Zwonechek says no matter what, the surest way to reduce highway deaths is for drivers and passengers to buckle up.
“I mean, if you’re drowsy and you lose control of your vehicle and run off the road and it overturns, if you’re belted, you’re chances of survival are about 70% higher than if you weren’t.”
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:50]