Preventing crash fatalities takes multi-tiered approach

Published 9:03 am Friday, February 19, 2016

The raw statistics can be staggering.

Nationally, more than 30,000 people lose their lives in motor vehicle crashes each year. Twenty people were killed in Berrien and Cass counties in 2014.

Even more heart wrenching is when we realize these aren’t just numbers.

Each figure is someone’s son or daughter, mother or father, sister or brother.

Every time this number goes up it is like tossing a stone in a lake, with the ripples affecting the lives of so many. We have recently seen firsthand what it can do to a community.

Two Niles area residents were killed in a car accident last week. A Harbor Country woman was killed on US-12 a few days earlier.

Although the numbers have dropped drastically in recent years, anything above zero is too much.

Unfortunately there isn’t a magic, one-size-fits-all solution to prevent fatalities.

It certainly starts with each of us — as citizens who realize our actions impact and potentially endanger others — making a commitment to follow all traffic laws. This ranges from obeying the speed limit to putting down the phone while behind the wheel to not getting in the driver’s seat if you have consumed any alcohol.

Many accidents could be prevented by taking these fundamental steps.

Education has to be the next component. We will soon have multiple generations behind the wheel who are adept at multitasking and so used to doing a million things at once that they sometimes take driving for granted. Teaching future drivers about the importance of focused driving is critical.

Then it comes down to our local government must do everything possible to make our roads and highways safer. This ranges from paving bad roads to analyzing traffic patterns and signals to ensuring guardrails are on any roads that pass near water.

It may be impossible to prevent motor vehicle crashes and fatalities but if our combined efforts reduce even one number from these stat sheets it will be time well spent — and countless lives impacted.


Opinions expressed are those of the editorial board consisting of Publisher Michael Caldwell and editors Ambrosia Neldon, Craig Haupert, Ted Yoakum and Scott Novak.