via Moak: MDOT sets zero traffic deaths goal, clarionledger.com, 2/25/2016
Six hundred and seven. That’s the number of people who died in traffic crashes in Mississippi in 2014, according to the Mississippi Department of Transportation. That’s 607 mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, loved ones and dear friends who lost their lives on Mississippi roadways. Nationwide, nearly 33,000 traffic deaths occurred the same year.
While some of those deaths were unavoidable, it’s apparent that at least some of those people could still be living among us today. For example, more than a third of those 607 deaths involved alcohol. Others involved lack of seat belts (two-thirds of those killed weren’t wearing them), distracted driving (texting and mobile device usage while driving are rampant) and other unsafe driving practices. Those alarming statistics should cause general outrage; even one needless death is one too many.
MDOT recently announced an initiative all Mississippians should join. As part of a national initiative called Towards Zero Deaths (TZD), MDOT has adopted a vision of a “highway system free of fatalities through a sustained decline in transportation-related deaths and injuries,” including the vision as part of its highway safety plan.
“The safety of the traveling public is the number one priority for MDOT,” said MDOT Executive Director Melinda McGrath. “Embracing this vision will help reduce deaths on Mississippi’s highways. Zero deaths on highways should be the goal for all Mississippians.”
According to MDOT, TZD “provides a platform of consistency for state agencies, private industry, national organizations and others to develop safety plans that prioritize traffic safety culture and promote a common vision. Strategies to further this vision involve: increasing seatbelt use by drivers and passengers, reducing speeding-related fatalities, reducing impaired driving fatalities, reducing driver distraction-related fatalities and increasing the safety of young and older drivers.”
MDOT has installed a special website at mdot.ms.gov/tzd/ to provide resources and information. They include videos, interactive quizzes, quick tips and information about the “Safe Driver Pledge.” Here are a few of their tips, which we need to all take to heart:
Avoid distractions, and put down the phone. While it may be tempting to answer a text message on the road, it’s not only illegal, it could be a fatal mistake for you, your passengers and other drivers around you. If you must answer a text or check your messages, pull over and stop in a safe place.
Wear your seatbelt. They’re proven life-savers. If you don’t wear one, adopt the habit today and don’t move the vehicle if everyone’s not properly restrained. (If not for your own sake, do it for others.)
Find a designated driver. There is just no excuse for getting behind the wheel after you’ve been drinking or using drugs (including prescription drugs) which impair your judgement. Take a taxi, get a ride with an unimpaired friend, or have someone pick you up.
Slow down. Statistics have shown that decreasing vehicle speed can have a dramatic lifesaving effect, as it increases response times and decreases the severity of crashes.
Use caution in work zones. Each year, highway workers and motorists die needlessly because the driver wasn’t paying attention in construction zones. Slow down and pay attention to signs and warnings.
Watch out for cyclists and pedestrians. Your vehicle might be sharing the road with people on bicycles (and, I might add, motorcycles). According to Mississippi law, cyclists have as much right to the road (and the same responsibilities) as those operating motor vehicles, and Mississippi’s “3-foot” law requires that cyclists be given a wide berth. Give motorcycles the same considerations as you would a car, and watch out for pedestrians, especially children who might dart out from behind a parked vehicle or other obstruction.
For more, visit http://mdot.ms.gov/tzd/.