Kansas and many other states have adopted a “zero” roadway fatalities vision. The Kansas Department of Transportation’s first goal for its’ ‘Drive to Zero’ safety plan is to cut roadway fatalities in half by the year 2030. Impaired and distracted driving is the leading cause of roadway accidents for people ages 18-34.
Marlana Felty was only 17-years-old when she suffered life altering injuries in a 2011 alcohol-related car accident.
“I thought I was okay to drive,” Felty said. “I didn’t think I was that drunk, but my reflexes were slower than I realized.”
Felty left work to meet her boyfriend after a night of drinking. On the way, she lost control and flipped her car. After impact, she said she felt like two-thirds of her body was detached.
“There is not a price I wouldn’t pay to take back my decision, so that I could feel my feet touch the ground,” Felty said. “So that my dad can walk me down the isle when I get married, so that I could have all of the opportunities I had at my disposal that I had before I became paralyzed.”
In order to decrease the number of distracted and impaired drivers, KDOT is reaching out to drivers via social media.
“People have their phone with them 24-seven, it’s a part of their way of life now,” Traffic Safety Specialist Alex Wiebel said. “We are trying to hook into that with Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter and saying ‘hey, just put your phone away for this little time you are in the car.'”
KDOT has joined the Kansas Insurance Commissioner to create a ‘Don’t Text Just Drive’ campaign. The campaign targets all seven universities in Kansas. The competition will be going on through Thanksgiving. You can take the pledge to not text and drive by texting KU to 550555.
The ‘Drive to Zero’ safety plan is hoping to decrease the number of roadway fatalities. However, KDOT reports 318 deaths on Kansas roadways in the first half of 2016. This is about a 20 percent increase compared to 2015.
Roadway fatalities have also increased nationally. The U.S. Department of Transportation reported almost 18,000 people have died on roadways. This is about a 10 percent increase compared to last year.