Instances of fatal drunk driving crashes have been cut in half, but the Wright County Fatal Review Committee, including SAFE Communities of Wright County is hoping to continue to slice into that number, according to a report released by lead SAFE commission member Pat Hickman Monday, Jan. 19.
The review committee – a conglomerate of former and current legal minds, law officers and community engineers – has taken over the analyzation of the county’s fatal accidents over the past five years and released its findings to the public in the first weeks of the new year.
According to the report, 15 people died in accidents on Wright County Highways and roads last year, the same number of deaths as filed in 2013, with two more incidents vs. the prior year (12 total accidents to 14).
A little less than a third of those accidents involved impairment through drugs or alcohol, down from 60 percent in the recent past but still an unacceptable number, the panel said, since alcohol-related crashes are “100 percent avoidable,” Hickman said.
The largest number of crashes involving deaths were due weather, while the second atrribute was to ‘failure to yield,’ according to information supplied by the Wright County Sheriff’s Office. Hickman called that a “surprising trend” in the report given to media Monday.
Here’s the full report:
The Wright County Fatal Review Committee met recently to review all of the fatal vehicle-related crashes on roads within Wright County during 2014. There were a total of 14 crashes resulting in 15 fatalities. This is the same number of lives that were lost on the roads in 2013, when there were 12 crashes resulting in 15 fatalities.
Five out of the six fatalities that occurred before May 2014 were the result of poor road conditions and weather. This is an unusual pattern, as alcohol, speed, and distraction are the top causes cited for crashes statewide, not weather conditions. The other unusual pattern is the second contributing cause of our local crashes was Failure to Yield. This occurs when drivers are not coming to complete stops, looking left-right-left, and ensuring the roadway is clear before proceeding.
Alcohol did play a part in over 30 percent of the crash fatalities. While this is unacceptable since these crashes are fully avoidable, we do know that this number has been as high as 60 percent just a few years ago. While the Fatal Review Committee is pleased with the decline in this area, they agree there is still much work to be done in reducing impaired driving.
The Fatal Review Committee encourages drivers to follow four simple actions to increase their safety when they are behind the wheel: Always wear a seat belt, Drive at safe speeds, Drive sober, and Pay attention. In poor weather conditions, these actions become even more important.
The Wright County Fatal Review Committee is made up of professionals from law enforcement, emergency response, engineering and education. Participants include the Wright County Sheriff’s Office, MN State Patrol, Allina Medical Transportation, Wright County Highway Department, and Wright County Public Health, and Safe Communities of Wright County. The goal of this group is to review fatal crashes that happen in Wright County and identify commonalities, patterns, and trends that could be addressed to prevent future crashes.