For Immediate Release
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Editors: Statistics cited are current as of Sept. 9, 2012.
Spike In Fatalities Prompts Safety Warnings
CONCORD, N.H. – Following an unusually safe spring and early summer, traffic fatalities have spiked in New Hampshire, prompting warnings about unsafe driving practices from the N.H. Department of Safety.
“New Hampshire has experienced 71 fatal crashes thus far this year, compared with 54 during the same period last year,” said Commissioner of Safety John J. Barthelmes. “That is an increase of more than 30 percent, resulting in the deaths of 77 people, compared to 57 last year at this time.”
That increase in fatalities has occurred even as the number of crashes and the number of crash injuries is down, Commissioner Barthelmes said.
The number of reportable crashes so far this year totals 15,058, compared to 17,546 for the same period last year. The total number of injuries in crashes this year is 5,936, compared to 6,913 for the same period last year.
“We have no immediate explanation of why fatalities are up while the number of crashes and injuries are down,” said Col. Robert L. Quinn, Director of the Division of State Police. “But there is no mystery about the causes of serious crashes: speed, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, aggressive driving and driver inattention.”
Col. Quinn urged drivers to slow down and avoid dangerous activities such as texting and talking on cell phones while driving.
“Texting while driving is illegal in New Hampshire, but any activity that distracts a driver is dangerous,” he said.
Col. Quinn also encouraged drivers to wear seatbelts at all times. He noted that air bag systems are designed to work in tandem with seatbelts. Many people were killed in otherwise survivable crashes because they were not wearing seatbelts and were ejected from vehicles, he said.