Fairbanks Daily Minor: Keeping interior roads safe

With Interior roads clean and free of wintertime hazards such as freezing rain, ice fog or glare ice, it can be hard to believe there’s an elevated risk of accidents at this time of year.

But in Alaska and across the nation, the roughly 100 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day are the deadliest stretch of the year on the roads. The reason why has to do with issues we don’t always think of when we think of road hazards — and some that we do think of but to which we still need to devote more energy.

One of the primary reasons for the elevated accident risk at this time of year is simply there are far more vehicles on the road. With Interior summer weather sunny and warm, residents and visitors take to the roads to enjoy the day around town and further afield.

And the nice weather also means more pedestrians and cyclists out and about, meaning drivers need to devote attention not just to the increased number of cars around them but also those entering, exiting or crossing the roadway.

Another factor in summer crashes isn’t exclusive to the season but still merits serious consideration — distracted driving. The advent of smart phones, in-car video entertainment systems and other technology can often divide a driver’s focus. But giving in to the temptation to check texts, use apps or use a touch-screen device for any purpose while your car is moving is both dangerous and unlawful.

Studies have shown distracted driving can be every bit as dangerous, and in some cases even more so, than driving while intoxicated. Changes to Alaska’s distracted-driving law this year should mean it will be much more stringently enforced, dissuading drivers for whom staying safe isn’t motivation enough.

Summer is also the time when road construction dots Alaska’s roads. Even with proper signage, it’s easy to come across a road crew quickly when driving at road speed. With people and equipment in the roadway, both crews and drivers can be at risk, so slow down and take extra care when in a construction zone.

Making sure you drive safely is just part of the equation in reducing road dangers.

To bring down the number of crashes, it’s important to do what you can to mitigate dangerous behavior by others. Much of this is the skill set known as defensive driving: Give yourself more than enough room to stop if the car ahead of you suddenly brakes or gets into an accident.

Don’t test your luck on a stale green or yellow light — if you think it’s likely to change, slow down instead of accelerating. Even though it’s summer and the sun is up until midnight or later, keep your headlights on for visibility’s sake. And if you see another driver behaving erratically or in a dangerous manner, call 911 to report what’s going on. Police officers and Alaska State Troopers can’t be everywhere at once, so it’s a great help to have citizens looking out in the name of road safety.

Summer is here and conditions are excellent — let’s each do our part to make the roughly 100 days between now and Labor Day safer on Alaska roads.

 

—Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, May 31, 2016

More in Opinion

Deborah Morel’s beachhouse near Ninilchik, Alaska. (Photo courtesy of Deborah Morel)
Voices of the Peninsula: The Dream Team saves the day

The story, I believe, speaks to the goodness of humankind.

teaser
Opinion: The truth Dunleavy should tell about COVID vaccines

Dunleavy made a political calculation to appease his party’s angry base by joining the lawsuits against the mandates.

Laura Black, owner of Fireweed Bakery, sells some of her wares during the Merry Little Christmas Market at the Peninsula Center Mall in Soldotna, Alaska on Nov. 7, 2020. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)
Opinion: Shop local this holiday season!

By Julie Anderson Shopping locally has never been as important or as… Continue reading

A resident casts their vote in the regular municipal election Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020 at the Kenai Peninsula Fairgrounds in Ninilchik, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)
Voices of the Peninsula: What do voting statistics say about our democracy?

Kenai Peninsula Borough total voter turnout in this past October 2021 municipal election was a sad 11.84%.

Tease
Opinion: Rural broadband is essential infrastructure

Broadband funding is available. The rest is up to Alaskans.

Nurse Sherra Pritchard gives Madyson Knudsen a bandage at the Kenai Public Health Center after the 10-year-old received her first COVID-19 vaccine on Friday, Nov. 5, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Alaska Voices: A mom’s and pediatrician’s perspective on COVID-19 vaccines for children

I want to see children and their parents who have yet to get vaccinated roll up their sleeves.

Larry Persily (Peninsula Clarion file)
Opinion: State defends its right to cut nonexistent taxes

This from a state that has no property tax on homes or businesses, only on the oil industry.

Gavel (Courtesy photo)
Opinion: The foolish men claiming self-defense

It’s not just misguided teenagers carrying guns who find themselves in trouble with the law.

Dr. Jay Butler, former chief medical officer for the State of Alaska, is seen in this undated photo. (Courtesy photo)
Alaska Voices: Feeling grateful this Thanksgiving for the COVID vaccines

The COVID vaccines remain our strongest tool in combating the pandemic and helping us return to our lives and the things we love and cherish.

Most Read