It’s an outrage, but crashes are the leading cause of death for people ages 4-34, and they should be considered a public health crisis, Kansas traffic safety organizations say.
In the first seven months of 2012, 215 Kansans – equivalent to the population of Smolan, Kan., about 10 miles southwest of Salina – died in crashes on the state’s roads and highways, according to the Kansas Traffic Safety Resource Office. The office has teamed up with the Kansas Department of Transportation, the Kansas Highway Patrol and AAA to call attention to this important message.
“If Smolan were wiped off the map by a disease, we would develop a vaccine, issue health alerts or somehow address the threat,” said Norraine Wingfield, KTSRO’s project director. “We believe the same urgency should be applied to the preventive measures available to reduce roadway deaths.”
The groups said 70 percent of the 36 people who died in Kansas crashes in July were not wearing a seatbelt.
“The simplest thing people can do to save lives is to buckle up, every time they are in a vehicle,” Wingfield said.
Jim Hanni, executive vice president of public affairs for AAA Allied Group, said much attention is being paid to the problem of distracted driving, such as texting while behind thewheel.
“Most crashes could be prevented altogether if people would just pay attention to a motorist’s No. 1 responsibility: driving,” Hanni said.
Statistics assembled by the Kansas agencies show that a quarter of July’s traffic fatalities were under the age of 18, and 81 percent were males.
Capt. Scott Harrington of the Kansas Highway Patrol said: “Too many friends and families are grieving over something that could have been prevented. Ditch the distractions and buckle up, every trip, every time.”