2010 is turning out to be a safer year for North Dakota motorists. As of August 30, 59 people have died from motor vehicle crashes in North Dakota compared to 92 people at the same time last year, and the ND Highway Patrol wants to encourage motorists to continue to exercise prudence on roadways as the Labor Day weekend approaches.
Rumble strips, turning lanes, education efforts and enforcement campaigns are proving to be effective measures to help reduce crash rates. Western North Dakota in particular has experienced a marked decrease in fatality rates compared to last year. North Dakota Highway Patrol (NDHP) statistics indicate motor vehicle fatalities for the 17 oil and gas producing counties in northwest and north central North Dakota are 56% lower than they were at this point last year. Nineteen motorists have died in this region compared to 43 at the same time last year.
While NDHP Superintendent James Prochniak understands that traffic safety is a multi-agency effort, he gives much of the credit to motorists. “I believe drivers are responding to last year’s high fatality numbers by using caution and making responsible decisions,” states Prochniak. “Lives are being spared, but we still have a long way to go.”
Excessive speed, alcohol impairment, right-of-way violations and inattention are common contributing factors for North Dakota’s traffic crashes. At least one of these behavior-related contributing factors was present in 92% of North Dakota’s 116 fatal crashes that occurred during 2009. Lack of seatbelt use also continues to contribute to preventable injuries and deaths. Unrestrained motorists account for over 68% of North Dakota’s fatality victims since 2007. Additional crash statistics can be obtained at the NDHP website located at nd.gov/ndhp/.
The Highway Patrol and other state agencies encourage motorists to make safe, responsible driving decisions. Wearing seatbelts, slowing down, choosing designated drivers and overtaking with caution are common sense measures motorists can take to help make North Dakota a safer place to drive.