Traffic fatalities skyrocket before holiday weekend

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WIAT) – Before you get behind the wheel this holiday weekend, there are some new crash statistics that you just can’t ignore.  CBS 42 spent the afternoon with Rhonda Stricklin, Associate Director for the Center for Advanced Public Safety at the University of Alabama.  She told us that the number of traffic fatalities is actually up 28% as compared to this same time last year.  It’s a drastic increase that they weren’t expecting.

“We were up last year, but we weren’t up as high as some of the surrounding states,” Stricklin said, “but this year, we seem to be following the trend and taking a big leap in fatalities.  Our fatalities this year, to date, from last year are up by 107 people.”

That’s right.  On this same day one year ago, 107 fewer people had been killed in traffic crashes.  So what’s the reason for such a drastic increase within a year?  “I know the question always is – why are they up so much?” Stricklin said.  “You want to think it’s because people are driving more because the price of gas is down–and that’s true, but there is a big increase in crashes and an even larger increase in the number of fatalities.”

So here’s the rub: whereas statistics show a 28% increase in fatalities, Stricklin said CAPS has only seen a 5% increase in the number of crashes.  That suggests that the crashes have been more deadly.

The drastic increase in the number of fatalities on the road this year has experts worried about one of the most dangerous times, statistically, to be on the road: the 4th of July holiday weekend.  “That’s why we’re stressing to be careful,’ said Stricklin, “because when they’re going up in general, they might really go up for this weekend.”

Here’s how the numbers break down:

  • July 4th Weekend 2013: 7 fatalities
  • July 4th Weekend 2014: 14 fatalities
  • July 4th Weekend 2015: 10 fatalities

General Statistics for 2016 so far (courtesy of CAPS)

  • 426 fatal crashes
  • 481 fatalities
  • Increase of 107 fatalities over 2015
  • 73,224 total crashes
  • The area with the greatest number of crashes in the state: Jefferson County
  • The day where, statistically, the most crashes have happened: Friday

According to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, troopers (alone) have worked 308 fatalities, which is 85 more over last year.  In these situations, troopers tell us 52% of the deceased were not wearing seat belts.

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