By Ray LaHood
Each year on October 10, a nationwide network of road safety partners celebrates "Put the Brakes on Fatalities Day" to raise awareness about the causes of highway crashes. This year marks the 11th anniversary of this effort, and I am proud to add my voice to the many safety messages here on the Kansas Department of Transportation's Put the Brakes on Fatalities blog page.
At the US DOT, we have thousands of professionals working every day to improve road safety. Whether it’s our five-star crash test ratings or our use of innovative technology to help drivers avoid accidents altogether, safety is the most important thing we do.
But all of our technological advances alone are not enough to move us toward zero highway fatalities. We need America's motorists to help. We need them to hear safety messages like the entries on this Kansas DOT blog page, and we need them to follow up by driving safely.
Since September 13, each first-person account in this important series has made a valuable point about what everyday drivers and passengers can do to keep themselves and others safe. From the opening post by Carlotta Meeker about how wearing her seat belt saved her life in a devastating crash to the recent entry by Holcomb Fire Chief Bill Knight about the importance of approaching an accident site cautiously to avoid harming emergency workers, the stories in this year's "Put the Brakes on Fatalities" series have been both personal and persuasive.
Now, as this month of Put the Brakes on Fatalities blog posts draws to a close, I'm asking everyone who has read any or all of these stories to do two things. First, take them to heart and let them inform the way you drive. If you don't want to drive more consciously and safely for your own sake, do it for your families and for those who share the road with you.
Do it for Courtney Billinger, whose close friend was killed by a drunk driver. Do it for Jeff Romaine, who just wants to protect his fellow road workers from a senseless work-zone crash, or for Trooper Rick Wingate, who writes about arriving at the scene of yet another fatal texting crash.
Then, share these stories with others and urge them to do the same. The Kansas DOT and all of this year's contributors have done a great job. And when we share these stories, we can help them make a bigger difference in road safety...on Put the Brakes on Fatalities Day and every day.
From all of us here at DOT, thanks to everyone who contributed to the 2012 Kansas DOT safety effort. And many thanks to everyone at KDOT for continuing to lead the way toward zero fatalities.
Ray LaHood is the United States Secretary of Transportation