Holiday highway safety

Monday, November 23, 2009

Dear Fellow Nebraskans:

With the holidays approaching and winter weather settling in, this is a good time to highlight several safety tips for those who will be traveling on Nebraska roadways.

In 2008, there were fewer traffic fatalities in Nebraska than any time since 1944. During each of the past three years, Nebraska's road fatality rates have declined. By buckling up and taking basic precautions over the next few weeks we hope to close 2009 with a fourth consecutive year with fewer fatalities.

The best and most effective way to prevent an injury in a crash is wearing a seat belt. In 2008, 182 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes on Nebraska roads, and114 people were not wearing their seat belts.

Drivers can help prevent accidents by ensuring their full attention is on the task of driving. As winter approaches, devoting our full attention to driving becomes even more important. The Nebraska State Patrol Highway Helpline is a way for motorists to report impaired or reckless drivers on state roads to law enforcement officials *55 from any cellular phone or 1-800-525-5555 from any landline phone. Motorists can also get updates on road conditions by dialing 511 from any landline or cell phone.

During the past five years several state agencies, including the State Patrol and the Nebraska Departments of Motor Vehicles, Roads and Health and Human Services, have developed and implemented strategies to prevent crashes, reduce injuries and save lives. Their efforts to make state roadways safer include the partnership of local and county law enforcement and those in the private sector who've supported state safety campaigns in recent years.

During the holiday travel season, the State Patrol, police departments and sheriff's offices will use federal grant funds for safety campaigns across the state.

The "Click It or Ticket" campaign runs the week of Thanksgiving. State Patrol troopers will use a number of safety and seat belt checks along Interstate 80 and several highways. The special enforcements coordinated as part of the "Click It or Ticket" and the "You Drink and Drive. You Lose" initiatives have helped improve Nebraska's safety belt use to an all time high of 85 percent. They've also been a factor in helping reduce the number of fatalities in alcohol-related crashes to an all-time low in 2008.

Highway safety is a partnership. The most important steps are taken by drivers and passengers who commit to staying safe, sober, focused, and buckled up each and every time they are in a vehicle. I encourage every Nebraskan to take the small steps that can help ensure the safety of their families and fellow travelers arrive safe.

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