Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Be safe: Rural roads get more dangerous on Christmas and during winter months

Christmas is one of the most dangerous times of year to drive, especially as ice and snow accumulate on rural roads. The National Center for Rural Road Safety offers tips for winter driving. To view the tips, click here. (Hudson Star-Observer photo by Mike Longaecke: Winter weather caused a multi-vehicle crash in St. Croix County, Wisconsin.)

In Wisconsin in 2013—the most recent year records were available—the state had 18,000 crashes related to snow and slush, leading to 42 deaths and 3.329 injuries, Ricky Campbell reports for the River Falls Journal. "Icy roads were blamed for 6,072 crashes, killing 13 and injuring an estimated 1,282." St. Croix County, with a population of 85,000, has had 66 vehicular deaths in the past five years, with 11 of those fatalities occurring between November to February.

Based on news media reports, there were at least 477 deaths due to icy roads in the U.S. during the 2008-2009 winter season and at least 458 during the 2009-2010 winter season, states Ice Road Safety. Pennsylvania had the most reported fatalities in 2009-10 with 26. That was followed by Nebraska and Missouri (23), Iowa (20), Texas (19), Michigan (18) and Minnesota, Ohio and Oregon (17). The deadliest period in 2009-10 was from Dec. 22-27, when 35 fatalities were reported in 10 states.

The Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign is encouraging towns and cities to have local campaigns from Dec. 18-31. In December 2014 more than 700 drivers were involved in drunk driving crashes, states the campaign. Of all the fatal drunk driving crashes, 30 percent were ages 21 to 24, and 75 percent occurred between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. Eight of 10 drunk drivers were male. (Ice Road Safety map)

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