Marked Increase In Wyoming Highway Deaths Due To Multiple Factors
Officials say the number of people killed on Wyoming's roadways so far this year is alarming. According to the Wyoming Highway Patrol, as of March 22nd there were 34 fatalities on Wyoming's roadways. By the same time last year, 17 highway deaths had been reported in the state compared with 19 in 2017 and 10 in 2016 to date.
"We are very keenly aware and quite frankly alarmed at the number of fatalities that we have to date so far this year," said Colonel Kebin Haller of the Wyoming Highway Patrol in an interview with Townsquare Media. "We are just taking a look at everything trying to determine is there a commonality, but there are so many factors involved it's hard to just address one area of concern, it's multiple areas."
Col. Haller said one major factor is the incidence of multiple-vehicle crashes resulting in multiple fatalities. Nine crashes with multiple fatalities involved semi tractor trailers. "We know just due to the size and weight of those vehicles that passenger vehicles are never going to fare well in those types of collisions."
The fatalities are occurring all around the state, said Col. Haller, and weather conditions and speed are also contributing factors. "Speed has been a factor in eight of the crashes and again, those are combined with multiple fatalities. Speed is a factor, and the higher the speed, the more danger you're putting yourself and others in."
Col. Haller notes ultimately, it is the drivers themselves that are responsible for their vehicles, and here's what he had to say about other factors contributing to the increase in highway deaths.
Distracted driving is increasing: "You've got to put away the distractions. Whether it be your phone, whether it be looking out the window and daydreaming, that is still a distraction. Technology is available at our fingertips and as a result, it is easily to become, these days, distracted. And behind the steering wheel is the last place, so we just cannot emphasize that enough."
Seat Belts and child restraints: "Always buckle up. The driver is responsible for everybody in their vehicle wearing their seat belts, that's why it's there is to keep you safe. And if we can keep you inside that vehicle your chance for survival or less injury is that much better."
Intoxication and impairment: "Five of the fatalities to date have been directly involved to impairment and that includes impairment not only of alcohol but of other substances, so don't drive impaired. Uber and Lyft and friends and family, I'm confident that if you need assistance driving to please reach out and explore safer alternatives."