What will it take to drive safely?

Richard Price.

 

Zoe Ivanoff.

Jaramiah Hundley.

Jenna Herrmann.

Bilal Pitts.

Joyce Riley.

Andrea Leindecker.

William Tillery.

Angela Tillery.

Hayley Watt.

Levi Watt.

James Ries.

Lavern Kitchen.

Kelley Guy Baker.

James Stutsman.

These names might not appear to have much in common, but there is a familiar thread linking them all. Each one died either in 2011 or 2012 on the Peninsula's highways.

And this is not even a complete list.

On Monday night and Tuesday morning two people -- Richard Price and Zoe Ivanoff -- died in unrelated accidents and by our count that's six motor vehicle deaths this year so far.

While the circumstances behind each one of these fatalities is unique, they all could have been prevented.

The root causes are always two-fold -- road conditions and driver behavior and attitude. We can't change the road conditions -- the Sterling, Seward and Spur will always remain narrow and curvy. Rain will fall. Snow will come.

But what we can change is our attitude. That means eliminating distractions, slowing down, paying attention and driving defensively. Nobody needs to die on their way to or from our community -- but they do at an alarming rate.

Who's to say you're not next?

So we can all agree that making a change starts with you. You can only control what's inside your car.

Sometimes it's easy to get frustrated, mad, impatient or otherwise reckless when behind the wheel. Summer is simply crazy -- we get it. But when you go to pass that car in front of you, when you decide to use your cell phone, when you decide to take your attention from the roadway, remember what's at stake.

Someone's child.

Someone's father.

Someone's wife.

Who are we kidding? The people who need to hear that the most aren't likely reading this editorial. They may not be aware of our bone-chilling death statistics.

If they knew, who, in their right mind, would still drive this way?
How many people need to die to get the word out? Before people know to slow down and drive with their brain?

Maybe we should ask the state to buy us some signs -- they could replace the ones detailing the number of moose killed on the roadway with the number of people killed.

Would that get some attention?

Maybe we should just leave the cars that have been totaled along the roadside as a ghastly reminder of what happens when two vehicles traveling at 55-plus mph collide.

If not that, then perhaps solar-powered, LED-illuminated headstones with names engraved.

Perhaps we'll never change the driving attitudes of all those traveling on our roadways. But, when we have to write a story almost weekly on the most recent fatality, we'll continue to indulge our naivete.

In short: Drivers must be defensive on our roadways. They must slow down, use caution and judgment, and eliminate distractions. It starts on an individual level and as more and more people die, the message becomes that much more important.

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