Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Reflections from this Week's Fatality Report

Central Region for Missouri's Coalition for Roadway Safety has a seen a dramatic reduction in fatalities this year.

So far, 26 people have died in Central Missouri using Missouri's highways, and roads.  Last year, 35 people had lost their lives in the Central Region.

Are the numbers going up or down?

It is 9 fewer than last year at this time. This is a 26% reduction when compared to last year.

How do we compare with the rest of the state?

The Coalition has 10 regions. Central Region has the second highest number of fatalities at 26. Only the St. Louis region has had more people killed.

Were they wearing their safety belts?

6 out of the 10 fatalities were not wearing a safety belt. Last year, it was closer to 8 out 10.

What is the deadliest day of the week?

It is a tie between Saturday and Wednesday at 5 each.

What about young drivers and passengers?

5 out of the 26 killed were between the ages of 15 and 20. Three of these were not wearing a safety belt. One involved a motorcycle. We also had 1 infant so far.

Multiple fatalities crashes?

All of the crashes this year have only had a single fatality. Last year, we had 4 crashes with multiple deaths. Most of these had 2 fatalities, but we had one with 3 fatalities.

Where have they occurred?

U.S. Numbered highways had the most at 9. County roads and city streets were next at 7.

This was followed by State Lettered routes and then by Missouri Numbered routes.

Last year, U.S. Numbered highways had the least number of deaths.

What about alcohol and drugs?

Four of the fatalities involved some sort of impairment. 19% of the fatalities that occurred across the state involved an impaired driver, while in Central Region, the percentage of impaired drivers is 15%.

What about the counties?

Last year, I was pulling for Gasconade to be the county without a fatality, but that didn't happen.

This year, Morgan and Moniteau counties are in the running with zero fatalities so far. Something to watch as the year continues.

Our biggest concern is Pettis county which is experiencing a large increase this year. They have had 6 fatalities to date. Last year, they only had 1.

Benton, Cole, Gasconade, and Maries are counties who are experiencing a higher number of fatalities over last year.

This also means that our biggest counties are seeing a decrease. These are Boone, Callaway, Camden, and Miller.

What is Matt's View?
I have to say this is not just about the numbers. There are 26 families trying to work through this time in their lives the best they can.

It is encouraging to know that we are seeing a large reduction so far this year. We even have a few counties that could have zero fatalities.

But, there is still work to be done. Out of the 10 regions, the Central Region usually has enough fatalities to be the second or third worst region in the state.

We need to keep reminding ourselves and others to emphasize and practices what works:

Wear a safety belt, drive sober, leave cell phone down, and stay attentive.

Thanks for reading, M

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Super Bowl is a beer holiday

Yea!! It's Super Bowl Week and Sunday is the big game. I can't wait.

For some people though, this week was not so "Super."

As I arrived at work yesterday, I received a call from my Operations crew. They were called out at midnight to clean up after a drunk driver. The driver snapped a wood pole, which holds up the stoplights at an intersection.

But, I was reminded how "Super" this crew was, because they repaired a broken pole and the stop lights before the morning commuters showed up.

How does this tie into the Super Bowl?

The two weeks prior to Super Bowl Sunday is one of the highest periods for cases of beer sold. In fact, when compared to other "holidays", Super Bowl Sunday is the 10th highest. You can see this fact on Tuesday's USA Today Snapshot on their front page.

As you make arrangements to enjoy the day with your friends and family, please keep the following two items in mind.

First - Be Responsible. There are many options available that prevent impaired driving. Don't let am impaired person get behind the wheel when leaving a party.

Second - Buckle Up. Tuesday, someone drove through a wood pole because they were not responsible for their actions. As you travel this Sunday, you may encounter a similar driver, and I don't want you to share the same fate as the pole. Using a seat belt is probably your last defense for such an offensive move.

Hope your team plays as well on Sunday as mine performed last Tuesday.


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Three Seconds Before the Crash

A local television station called me last week with questions about the dangers of distracted driving. They had heard the announcement by U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and National Safety Council President Janet Froetscher about the creation of a national nonprofit organization called FocusDriven. It is the first of its kind devoted specifically to raising awareness about the dangers of distracted driving.

The reporter wanted to know my view on distracted driving and I was very pleased to take the time to talk with him about this topic. Distracted driving is serious business and a growing concern among safety advocates nationwide.

Although many people think of driving as just a routine task, the reality is that controlling an automobile takes a driver’s full attention. Did you know it only take three seconds to travel more than 300 feet when driving 70 mph? The National Highway Traffic Safety Adminstration says that 80 percent of crashes and 65 percent of near-crashes involve some sort of driving distraction occurring within three seconds before the vehicle crash. One such distraction is texting while driving.

It is not okay to think you can take your eyes off the road to focus on the keyboard of your phone in an attempt to send or read a text. No message is so important that it cannot wait until you have stopped in a safe location.

Our society is a busy one and technology has made the communication of information instant. I have mentioned before how much I depend upon my Blackberry. It allows me to multitask and get a lot done—anywhere and at anytime. But we need to learn to use our technology responsibly and we need to teach our driving-age children to do the same.

My hope is that you pause to think about what you can do now to prevent a crash, rather than think about what you wish you had done differently after a crash. My hope is that my words in this blog or on television this week might just save a life. Please give driving your full attention.

Respond to my blog and let me know what you think.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Shooting Some Hoops at Mizzou Arena

How difficult is it to throw a basketball through a hoop? Some people can make it with little practice but lots of luck. Others work on it every day, so they've got lots of experience. But even the most skilled professional would have trouble getting "nothing but net" when they're impaired by drugs or alcohol.

The same could be said for getting behind the wheel. No matter who you are or how much driving experience you've had, there's no guarantee that you can safely operate a vehicle if you're impaired.

As part of the Coalition for Roadway Safety, I spent Dec. 5 sharing that message with basketball fans at the University of Missouri. We set up a mini basketball hoop and some eye-catching banners in one corner of Mizzou Arena and offered people the chance to try making baskets wearing fatal vision goggles that simulate the sensation of being impaired.

It's interesting to watch people who wear the goggles. For most of them, I immediately notice that they're walking slower, arms stretched out for balance, easing their way from the table to the basketball hoop. Several of the teenage boys walk confidently but then misjudge the distance and walk right into the base of the game. Rarely does anyone actually get the ball through the hoop.

Everyone who puts on the goggles can feel the impairment. But there are too many people out there who etiher don't realize or don't care that they've had too much to drink and they're about to make a terrible choice by drinking and driving. Last year in Missouri, 262 people were killed, 1,113 seriously injured and 3,398 received minor injuries in crashes involving an impaired driver. That equals a death or injury every 1.7 hours.

While the fatal vision goggles offered a good time at the game last Saturday, the message was a serious one that we'll continue to share. Don't drink and drive. Be safe, and ARRIVE ALIVE.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Day Started Off Just Like Any Other Day

Sixteen-year old Jessica of Osage County was involved in a roll-over crash in Oct. 2009. She credits her seat belt for saving her from serious injury or death. The following is Jessica's story in her own words...

The day started off just like any other day. I was going to my aunt's house so I could put her kids on the bus. So I got out of bed, took a shower, and got ready. I was supposed to be there at 6:15 that morning, but I was running a little late and didn't leave my house until 6:06 a.m.

As I was driving Highway 63 I approached a big curve. I went over the center line and freaked out because I thought a car was going to come around the curve. So, I jerked the wheel back over. I went too far over the white line and into the gravel. I jerked the wheel trying to get out of it and overcorrected my vehicle. After that, it felt like a really weird dream. I went down a huge embankment. There was dirt and glass flying everywhere. The only thing I could do was scream; so I did the entire way down and as a result, I had dirt in my teeth and down my throat.

I kept asking myself if this was really happening to me. I seriously thought that my life was over. The car kept flipping over and over until I hit another tree and stopped. The air bag shot out of the steering wheel and jerked me back.

If it wouldn't have been for the seat belt, they would've been looking for me. I'm really lucky that I didn't get hurt or even killed. The only thing I got from it was burn on my chin from the air bag, and that only lasted about two weeks.

-- Jessica

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

M's Thoughts on Weekly Fatality Stats for November 1

Today, I am reviewing the weekly list of traffic related fatalities that occurred in Central Missouri.

These are people who died using Missouri's transportation system here in the central 13 counties of the state.

Every week I notice things that really leave me with an impression.

Statewide, 104 people have been saved this year over last year. That is a 13% decrease in fatalities. That is really cool. The uncool part is that Central Missouri is cruising at a 12% increase over the same period last year.

You read this right. An increase.

A question: Where do you think the vast majority of these fatalities have occurred?

US Highways? I-70?

Most occurred on county roads, state lettered routes, numbered routes, and city streets. Many of these roads are posted at 55mph or less and are most are 2 lane roads. They involve motorcycles, pedestrians, and cars.

The message is not all doom and gloom. Gasconade county is the only county in Central Missouri without a traffic related fatality.

I believe we can do better in Central MO not just Gasconade County if we all:
1. Buckle UP
2. Watch Our Speed
3. Don't drive intoxicated or "intexticated"

Please consider the above action items to help you stay off the weekly list I review.

Hoping You Arrive Alive, M

Thursday, October 8, 2009

ThinkFirst Missouri Kicks Off New School Year

ThinkFirst Missouri wants to be on your calendar!

Be a part of the solution to reduce injuries and save lives in Missouri by inviting ThinkFirst to your school, business or organization. ThinkFirst is a statewide traffic safety program of the University of Missouri School of Medicine. The program is presented by inspiring survivors of brain and spinal cord injuries. Through compelling firsthand testimonies, audiences will be motivated to take personal responsibility for their actions and make safe choices.

For more information about ThinkFirst Missouri, or to schedule a FREE presentation, visit http://www.thinkfirst.missouri.edu/, e-mail Penny Lorenz, Assistant Director at lorenzp@health.missouri.edu, or call (573) 882-1176.

Every life lost
or person injured
is ONE too many!