Lives Lost on the Road on the Rise

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(Guest View by Carmine Palombo, SEMCOG, Sept. 22, 2015)

As I was driving home from a meeting recently I noticed the message on the freeway that said 613 people had lost their lives in traffic crashes in Michigan so far this year. On Friday, there was the tragic death of the Michigan State trooper on his motorcycle. And, this morning I heard on the radio that another motorcyclist had lost his life in a crash with a car. We are up to at least 615 now.

[Editor’s note: at Sept. 15 that number was up to 670.  The website to check this is,4616,7-151-9615_11261_45350_66595—,00.html]

When I got back to the office, I checked last year’s statistics to see how this compared because POWELLad_01it seems high to me. I am sorry to say that I am right. Last year at this same time, 524 people had lost their lives in traffic crashes on Michigan roads! That is an increase of 17% over last year. It is sad. As a professional, I am disappointed and looking for reasons why. It does not make me feel any better to know that nationally, deaths caused in traffic crashes are up by 14%. We need to do better – much better!

The big question everyone is asking is why? Education seems to be at an all-time high. There are more safety messages in the media than I can ever remember hearing and seeing – and yet the number of deaths and serious injuries are on the rise. Why?

The simple answer is that we don’t know – at least not yet. But there are a few things that we can look at including:

  • Traffic volumes are increasing as we come out of the recession and more people are working.
  • The cost of gas is down, further stimulating driving.
  • There is evidence of increased cell phone use along with other electronic devices.seed010_todd_blakenship

I have always believed that many of us do not respect the dangers of driving because we do it so frequently. Driving has become as routine as brushing our teeth or combing our hair, which when done at home are fine, but if done in a moving car can get both you and me killed.

Please respect the process. Understand that you have a responsibility to get not just yourself home to your family, but to get me home safely as well. I have that same responsibility as it relates to you and every other driver on the road. There are some things you and I can both do help:

  • Buckle up
  • Don’t drink and drive
  • Don’t text and drive – ever!

SEMCOG’s Road Safety Task Force is currently working to identify the region’s key safety needs and guide investment decisions to achieve significant reductions in fatalities and serious injuries on all public roads. Let’s see if we can start to reverse this trend in the last part of this year. Even one death is one too many.

This blog originally appeared at Learn more about SEMCOG at


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