Motorists encouraged to travel safely

Posted By: Camila Orti

As Nebraska approaches the rush of summer traffic, law enforcement officials are reminding drivers to be safe and buckle up.

The Dept. of Roads reports that 74 traffic fatalities have occurred so far in 2014, just one more than the 73 recorded last year. Deputies say many of those deaths resulted from lack of seatbelt use.

A couple other numbers are also inching upward.

“We continue to see a disproportionate number of people dying in single vehicle rollover crashes,” Col. David Sankey with the Neb. State Patrol said, “A lot of these single vehicle rollover crashes are occurring on rural county roads.”

State Patrol officials say the percentage of fatal rural crashes has gone up over the last four years. From Jan. 1 to May 22 in 2010, there were 44 deaths. So far this year, 60 people have died- a 36 percent spike from four years ago.

Crashes resulting from cell phone distractions are also on the rise.

Sen. John Harms has attempted to address these issues before. He introduced the Nebraska Roadway Safety Act, proposing to change the seatbelt and texting while driving laws from secondary to primary offenses.

“We see a lot of people going down the highway at 75 miles per hour on their cell phones and they’re just an accident waiting to happen,” Sen. Harms said.

His legislation never made it out of committee this session. 43 states, including Nebraska, have some sort of ban on texting and driving. Of those, Nebraska is only one of five states that doesn’t list it as a primary offense.

Today, Gov. Dave Heineman was joined by Nebraska law enforcement, and public safety officials, to promote safe travel and the ‘Click It or Ticket’ initiative. This is the 10th year the state has participated in the national safety campaign, which began May 19 and runs through June 1.