Safety programs can’t save everyone

December 1, 2012

There is no doubt that seat belt use reduces a driver’s or a passenger’s chances of dying or being seriously injured in an accident.

The push to implore motorists to buckle up becomes more evident during the holidays for various reasons. Obviously, more people are traveling and the probability some of those people have had a drink or two at holiday gatherings before continuing on to another destination increases.

We can’t say enough about the Click It or Ticket Seat Belt Enforcement program conducted by state and local police, the DUI checkpoints randomly set up at sites in Washington and Greene counties and increased law enforcement presence on area highways.

Buckle Up PA reported the number of fatalities decreased in Pennsylvania in 2011. There were 1,286 traffic related deaths reported, down from 1,324 in 2010. There was other good news concerning the nighttime belt use. The number of unbelted fatalities at night also saw a decrease. There were 238 nighttime unbelted fatalities in 2011, down from 350 in 2010.

But despite all these programs, which, by the way, have proved quite successful, there always remains a risk when one gets behind the wheel of a car or truck.

The tragedy of the fatality Nov. 24 in Interstate 70 in South Strabane Township is such an example.

A trucker was traveling west on I-70 just east of the ramp to Interstate 79 south when his rig crossed through the median into the eastbound lanes.

The rig collided almost head-on with the car, killing the driver and passenger. The rig overturned, pushing the car through a guardrail before coming to rest. While sliding, the trailer blocked the eastbound lane. Another vehicle was unable to stop before crashing into the roof of the overturned trailer. Four other people were seriously injured.

What is so disturbing about this is that the rig’s driver said at his preliminary hearing he did not remember what happened, and investigators are speculating he may have fallen asleep.

Responsible drivers who follow the rules – wear seatbelts, don’t drink and drive and do not talk or text on phones while driving – often become the victim of those who engage in aggressive and impaired driving.

Recently, a West Virginia man died in a one-car accident on Interstate 79, about two miles north of Waynesburg.

Police said the man had been using opiates and had been driving erratically and at a high speed when his vehicle ran off the highway into the grass median and rolled.

The driver’s death is a tragedy, but it is fortunate no others were killed because of this person’s decision to drive under the influence of drugs.

We recognize there are countless distractions motorists face while driving, and sadly there are no foolproof measures to ensure 100 percent safety.

Who would be expecting to see a tractor-trailer sliding into their vehicle’s path?

All we can say, as law enforcement has been saying for a long time, is drive safe and sober and hope other drivers do the same.



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