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This summer, let’s be careful behind the wheel

Traffic on Greenfield Avenue passes construction barrels Friday, Aug. 10 in West Allis. Paving and improvement work will officially begin Monday, Aug. 13 on a 1.2-mile stretch of the road. The $4.7 million project is being done now to help support traffic that will pass through the area with the upcoming Zoo Interchange project.

Traffic on Greenfield Avenue passes construction barrels in August 2012 in West Allis. Traffic deaths are up even though vehicle-miles-travel have been down amid the pandemic (File photo by Kevin Harnack)

We’re getting back outside after more than a year stuck inside, with little to do for fun even if we did go out.

It’s safe to say there’s some pent-up energy being released.

There’s enthusiasm, but we can’t let that endanger our safety, or the safety of others. Especially behind the wheel.

Sadly, it seems that Americans’ driving is becoming worse.

A total of 38,680 people died on U.S. roads last year, according to preliminary data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That is a 7.2% increase from 2019 and, remarkably, came even as total vehicle miles traveled declined by more than 13%, Axios.com reported. It adds up to 1.37 fatalities per 100 million vehicle-miles-traveled, up from 1.11 the year before.

— The data get worse the more you break them down, Axios reported:

— Fatalities involving speeding were up 11%, and deaths involving unrestrained passengers were up 15%.

— Extreme crashes were up so much that incidents in which an occupant was ejected from the vehicle were up 20%.

Deaths among those aged 16–24 rose 15%.

Reckless driving had fatal consequences in the town of Porter in Rock County on Memorial Day: Two people were killed and six were injured when two pickup trucks collided after one ran a stop sign at a Highway 14 intersection on Monday afternoon, the Rock County Sheriff’s Office reported.

Investigators found that a Chevrolet Trailblazer that was northbound on North Tuttle Road failed to stop at the stop sign at Highway 14 and collided with a 1999 Chevrolet Silverado that was eastbound on 14, the Wisconsin State Journal reported. The crash caused the Silverado to spin around, hit and snap a power pole, while the Trailblazer continued northeast into a farm field and rolled before coming to a stop, Falk said.

A male passenger was ejected from the Silverado and pronounced dead at the scene. A male and female were ejected from the Trailblazer, and the male was later pronounced dead at an area hospital, Falk said.

The four other occupants of the Silverado, the female that was ejected from the Trailblazer and the other male passenger in the Trailblazer were transported to area hospitals for various injuries sustained in the crash, Falk said.

Two lives ended, and six other lives drastically altered, because a driver ran a stop sign.

Don’t become a statistic yourself.

Drive the speed limit, don’t tailgate the car in front of you, and put your phone down.

And if you’ve been drinking, give your keys to someone who hasn’t.

Let’s enjoy every day of the summer. We can do that tomorrow by playing it safe today.

– Racine Journal Times

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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