Midway through 2014, preliminary reports show that the number of fatalities on Kansas roads this year is a little below the five-year average for this point in the year but significantly higher than last year’s record-low. Through June 30, the number of motorcyclist, pedestrian and bicycle deaths has increased over the same period in 2013.
“Fatalities are random and there’s not always a good explanation why there are more some years than others,” said Chris Bortz, the Kansas Department of Transportation’s Traffic Safety Program Manager. “However, so far this year the number of impaired pedestrian fatalities is surprisingly higher.”
And, of the 17 fatality motorcycle crash reports KDOT has received so far (there have been 22 deaths this year compared to 13 at this time last year), only seven of the victims had a proper ‘M’ endorsement on their driver’s license as legally required. Helmet use is less than 50 percent in the fatalities.
Bortz noted that while seatbelt usage is gradually increasing, most of the people who die in car/truck crashes are unbelted.
“Progress has been made in teen seatbelt usage, but there are still too many people, especially young male pickup truck and SUV drivers in rural areas, who don’t buckle up. And it can be the difference between surviving and dying in a crash,” said Bortz.