Alabama State Troopers are reporting that nearly 900 people have been killed in car crashes on Alabama roads in the past 17 months. According to their data, 2016 represented a 10 year high for the number of traffic fatalities on Alabama roads and we are on pace to beat that unfortunate mark in 2017. Alabama State Troopers work a car wreck every 17 minutes in Alabama.
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The reported traffic fatalities include not just drivers, but passengers who can be adults, teenagers, senior citizens, and children. State Trooper Chuck Daniel says, “We rank number six in the nation in total number of fatalities per capita. Alabama is number five in the nation in the number of teens killed in traffic crashes.”
Trooper Daniel doesn’t call these traffic “accidents.” He is very careful in his choice of words when he calls them crashes or wrecks. That is because he says true accidents, where something happens beyond a person’s control like a tree falling or a deer running into the road, are rare. “99% of the crashes we work is driver error.” Troopers also report that the majority of Alabama traffic fatalities occur on two lane highways and country roads, where crossing into opposing traffic is easier to do.
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This high rate of fatal wrecks in our state begs the question, what is an acceptable number of fatal car wrecks per year? Most people that Trooper Daniel polls report that somewhere between 100 and 200 fatal traffic crashes a year seems like an acceptable number. However, when the question is rephrased to ask how many fatal traffic wrecks year is acceptable for your family, everyone always responds with “Zero!”
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In order to reduce the number of traffic fatalities Trooper Daniel has a few recommendations for drivers. First thing, slow down! Speed kills and it gives drivers less time to make crucial decisions in an emergency situation. Be sure that you and all your passengers are belted. Perhaps the most important tip is to focus on driving. Distractions such as cell phones, children, and other passengers should be managed correctly.
“If we can fix the driver error than that goes a long way to making these crashes come down and that will make the injuries and the fatalities come down,” says Daniel.
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