Fatalities on Kansas roadways reached 313 in the first nine months of 2012, equivalent to the population of Arcadia, Kan., about halfway between Pittsburg and Fort Scott on the Missouri border, according to the Kansas Traffic Safety Resource Office.
About 70 percent of the 47 people who died in Kansas road crashes in September were not properly restrained and involved speed, alcohol and inattention, the office said.
Seat belts save lives, and the failure to wear them helps make road fatalities a public health crisis. Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for people ages 4-34.
The Kansas Traffic Safety Resource Office has teamed up with the Kansas Department of Transportation, the Kansas Highway Patrol and AAA to call attention to statewide traffic fatalities.
“If Arcadia were wiped off the map by a disease, there would be widespread public reaction,” said Norraine Wingfield, KTSRO’s project director. “We call attention to 313 unnecesary deaths because we believe the same sense of public outrage and demand for response is needed to reduce roadway fatalities.”
Statistics complied by the groups said eight of the 47 deaths (up from 39 deaths in August) were on motorcycles.
Jim Hanni, executive vice president of public affairs for AAA Allied Group, said that in addition to always wearing seat belts, most crashes could be prevented altogether if people would just focus on driving.
He and Capt. Scott Harrington of the Kansas Highway Patrol urge everyone to designate a driver and do not get behind the wheel after drinking. They said motorists need to turn off phones, buckle up and just drive.