Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Driver Arrested After Unbelted Passenger Dies in Work Zone Crash

A driver has been arrested for vehicular homicide because his unbelted passenger was killed in an early-morning traffic crash in a work zone Monday in the state of Washington. According to the Seattle Times, just after midnight Monday, the driver and his passenger were heading south on Interstate 5 when they crashed through several barrels in a work zone, and slammed into the back of a parked transportation department pickup. And although the driver was belted and he survived, he could pay with the rest of his life for allowing his passenger to ride unbelted.

This story hits close to home, because even though it took place in Washington and not Missouri, it touches on two traffic issues in our state that affect us all: work zones and seat belts. And this situation is especially poignant right now because April 19 kicks off work zone awareness week, which means you’ll be seeing orange barrels all over the state soon.

And unfortunately, crashes in work zones happen more than you may think. In fact, in 2009 there were almost 2,200 crashes in Missouri work zones. Thirteen people were killed in these crashes and another 670 injured. Between 2005 and 2009, 64 people were killed and 4,260 people were injured in Missouri work zones.

Although there are various reasons for work zone crashes like inattention, following too closely, improper lane usage/change, too fast for conditions and failure to yield – the main reason traffic fatalities are so high is because motorists don’t buckle up. In 2009, of the 878 total traffic fatalities, 693 were vehicle occupant fatalities and 67 percent of them were not wearing a seat belt.

I don’t let anyone ride in my vehicle unless they are buckled, period. And I pay attention and follow the signs in work zones. If we all remembered these few rules, we’d have fewer families mourning the loss of loved ones. So remember, Buckle up and Don’t Barrel Through Work Zones. Arrive Alive.

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