Please, drive carefully.
In recent weeks, we’ve seen multiple fatal motor vehicle accidents on the roads leading to and crossing the Kenai Peninsula, including a seven-vehicle crash near Portage that left one person dead and three in critical condition Friday, and a single-vehicle accident on July 24 in which a teenage passenger was killed.
Investigation into those crashes continues, and our heart go out to all of those involved.
At the same time, we urge other motorists to remember that just a single moment of inattentiveness behind the wheel can have tragic consequences.
In the past, the Clarion has reported that factors leading to accidents include the design and composition of the road, the weather, and driver behavior.
While the Sterling and Seward highways have seen a few upgrades here and there, many stretches remain much the same as they were 60 years ago — winding country roads with little or no shoulder, certainly not designed for the amount of traffic they currently see.
And there’s not much anyone can do about the weather in Alaska.
That means the primary factor in preventing collisions is driver behavior — preparing for possible weather conditions, and driving appropriately for the road you’re on.
In the past, public safety officials have said the way to change driver attitudes is through enforcement or education, or a combination of the two. The state has established highway safety corridors in areas where the number of accidents has been high, including the Sterling Highway between Mackey Lake Road and Sterling. Education campaigns by various agencies, such as the Alaska State Troopers’ “drunk driving is a dead end” campaign, are ongoing, and law enforcement puts extra officers on patrol during anticipated high-traffic days.
But the state is in a budget crunch, and at some point, it is up to drivers to take the messages to heart.
We’ve all heard the warnings. Drive defensively. Turn off the cell phone, keep both hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. Wear your seat belt. Speed limits are posted for a reason and reflect driving in ideal conditions. Slow down, leave plenty of room between yourself and the vehicle in front of you. Never drive after drinking.
Give yourself extra time to get to your destination. If you do hit heavy traffic, be patient — it’s far better to get there a few minutes late than to not arrive at all.