Nebraska Road Fatalities Way Down

Nebraska’s efforts to increase road safety and improve driving habits seem to be paying off, with 2011 having the lowest number of road fatalities since 1944.

Authorities are citing increased awareness about drunken driving, improved use of seat belts and safer vehicles as the causes of the near-record year.

There were 179 road fatalities in Nebraska in 2011, only slightly more than the 166 deaths in 1944.

Fred Zwonecheck, administrator of the state’s Office of Highway Safety, thinks the state should aim for a new target. He wants to cut the number of fatalities in half by 2016.

In Zwonecheck’s opinion, as authorities enforce drunken driving and mandatory seat belt laws, the perpetrators’ friends hear about the citations and arrests. “Pretty soon it reinforces your own belief that you shouldn’t be doing that,” he said.

Nebraska did not succeed in every area, though. Deadly motorcycle accidents actually went up in the state. Twenty three people died on motorcycles in 2011, compared to 16 in 2010.

In response, the Office of Highway Safety wants to step up awareness efforts this year, focusing on spring months when motorcyclists are back on the roads but people are not used to them.

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