Our Opinion: Reverse upswing in fatalities

Traffic fatalities this year to date are straying beyond the margins of safety — literally and figuratively.

The dramatic surge in traffic deaths has prompted the Missouri Highway Patrol to inform and remind motorists about accident prevention.

As of Wednesday, fatalities for this year have increased by 29 over the same period last year. This upswing signals a reversal from the steady decrease in fatalities during the past six years.

The patrol has identified two distinct factors connected with the surge.

First, reports indicate two-thirds of the fatalities involved people who were not wearing seat belts.

Second, frequent contributing circumstances were failure to remain in the proper lane, including both crossing the center line and veering off the right side of the road.

The patrol reports many of this year’s crashes have involved drivers who drifted off the edge of the pavement and overcorrected. The agency attributes 50 percent of traffic fatalities to these run-off-the-road crashes.

Motorists who veer off the road are reminded to remain calm and don’t overcorrect. The key, according to the patrol, is to maintain a firm grip on the steering wheel and ease off the gas, but not hit the brakes. Steer one-eighth turn to the left and, when the tires hit pavement again, steer one-quarter turn to the right.

A video demonstrating the procedure may be viewed by going to the agency’s website, www.mshp.dps.mo.gov, and clicking on the “Off-Road Recovery” tab on the lower right margin.

It’s time for motorists to get back on track.

Buckling seat belts and learning how to recover properly after veering off the road will reverse the upswing in deadly accidents.

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