The Nebraska Department of Transportation says the state ended 2019 with 249 traffic-related deaths, the most the state has seen since 2007.
The trend in traffic fatalities in the state has been on the rise nearly a decade, when 181 people died on the state’s roadways in 2011.
Highway Safety Office Administrator Mark Segerstrom tells Rural Radio News there are many causes to fatal accidents, and failure to use seat belts contributes to the lethality of crashes , but the rise in smartphone use also plays a role. “We know the science behind that, that it’s not safe. There’s a cognitive distraction, there’s a visual distraction, there’s a manual distraction there,” says Segerstrom, “And so, since about 2011 we have, across all 50 states in the country, we have seen an upward trend in fatalities.”
Segerstrom tells us location of accidents is a factor as well, with two- to three-times as many fatal accidents taking place in rural versus urban parts of the state, where emergency response times can be longer, and access to trauma care may require traveling a longer distance.
He says buckling-up, setting down the smartphone and paying closer attention to road conditions and traffic can help reverse the trend of more fatalities across the state.