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Georgia highway fatalities down for 2013

File Photo - Traffic is shown on Interstate 85. According to officials, the number of highway fatalities in Georgia declined in 2013 for the eighth year in a row.

File Photo - Traffic is shown on Interstate 85. According to officials, the number of highway fatalities in Georgia declined in 2013 for the eighth year in a row.

Georgia officials announced a dip in highway traffic deaths last year, the eighth straight year of decline in the state.

In 2013, the state tallied 1,186 people killed in car crashes on state roads, the Georgia Department of Transportation and Governor’s Office of Highway Safety announced. The number is down 13 from 2012 and 562 fewer than the 2005 record of 1,748.

“The reduction in fatalities over eight years means that more than 500 additional persons will get to celebrate the life events that are special to us all,” GOHS Director Harris Blackwood said in a press release Monday. “Each number represents a family that has been spared from the horror of learning that a loved one has been killed in a motor vehicle crash. We must continue to work toward reducing injuries and death on Georgia roads.”

Officials pointed to initiaties like roundabout intersections, center median cable barriors, rumble strips, traffic signal synchronization and reflective signage and striping as reasons for the improvement, as well as the Stratetic Highway safety Plan, which brings a focus to education, engineering, enforcement and emergency medical services.

“We are gratified by the continuing progress of these efforts,” DOT Commissioner Keith Golden said.

The state saw notable declines in motorcycle fatalities, which were down 21 to a total of 110, as well as on local streets and roads, which reduced from 557 in 2012 to 523 in 2013, the release said. But bicycle and pedestrian deaths increased, with a gain of seven deaths to total 26 for bicyclists and an increase of 11 to 178 for pedestrians.

To combat that, offficials hope a new “complete streets” policy will improve conditions for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians in the future.

“Complete Streets is a long-term, broad initiative to design and build our transportation infrastructure in a way that best serves all of its users, be they drivers, bicyclists or pedestrians,” DOT chief engineer Russell McMurry said. “Growing segments of the population using our system, especially in metropolitan areas, are cyclists and walkers. The system must accommodate and protect them.”