Highway patrol addresses concerning rise in Kansas traffic deaths
WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - The death of a motorcyclist in an east Wichita crash Monday and a teen’s death Tuesday in a crash involving a semi on the Kansas Turnpike, are among the latest statistics to what’s already been a difficult year when it comes to traffic fatalities.
As Kansas sees an increase in traffic fatalities, the state follows the situation nationwide in which the number of people dying in crashes has been increasing in the last two years. So far, in 2022, it’s already been a costly one for lives lost on Kansas roads.
“It’s not just one death. It affects a whole community of people. You have their family, their friends, people they’re connected to,” said Kansas Traffic Safety Resource Office Traffic Safety Specialist Patricia Middleton. “It’s a tragedy every single time someone dies on the road.”
The Kansas Department of Transportation provided numbers from the last six years for people who’ve died from injuries on state roads and highways.
While 2017 was one of the deadliest years in recent history, with more than 460 traffic deaths in Kansas, 2020 and 2021 also saw increases, mirroring national trends.
Preliminary numbers so far for 2022 show 88 deaths, up 10 percent from last year.
“That’s really alarming to all of us out here,” Kansas Highway Patrol Trooper Chad Crittenden said.
KDOT said about half of the fatal crashes so far in 2022 involved someone not wearing a seatbelt. Crittenden said it remains a constant push to reinforce the basics.
“We have to go through and educate a lot, and we need to hold ourselves accountable, or take the responsibility on ourselves as well to put these phones down, to not be too sleepy, to not be impaired and to follow the speed limits,” he said.
Statewide and nationwide, Crittenden said there’s been a significant increase in how fast people are driving and a higher prevalence of speeds 100 miles per hour or greater.
“…Taking these unnecessary risks out there and we don’t know what that’s happening,” Crittenden said.
He said the faster people go; the less reaction time drivers have.
“The faster you’re going, the more violent the car crash is going to be,” Crittenden said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a safe driver out there. If somebody comes into your lane or crashes into you, the faster you’re going, the consequences can be very tragic.”
The Kansas Traffic Safety Resource Office issued a reminder that it’s important for drivers to plan and prepare for construction and weather, especially if you’re going to be taking an unfamiliar route. And when planning out a trip, an easy to find information is on the KanDrive map.
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