2018-02-15 / Life in Leelanau

Rd. Comm. manager pushes road safety

Roads in Leelanau county can be deadly if drivers aren’t focused.

In a recent report from Leelanau Road Commission manager Dan Wagner, he wrote, “I was discussing with a family member the number of lives lost due to vehicle crashes. It is staggering that in Michigan alone we had approximately 1,000 deaths due to vehicle crashes in 2017 alone ... That is a very sobering thought to me.”

In response, Wagner plans to use information from “Toward Zero Deaths”, a national movement dedicated to lowering roadway fatalities, to help educate Leelanau County residents about traffic safety. The program is endorsed by the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT).

Sheriff Mike Borkovich said he sees the benefit of the program as well.

“I totally support the program. I always look to see what causes a traffic accident — if it’s curves or something else,” he said.

That “something else” often turns out to be driver error.

“Changing drivers behavior is a very difficult thing to do,” Wager said. “We get numerous contacts from folks requesting that we erect signage, post lower speed limits, stripe roads, etc., in hopes of simply slowing people down. But the fact of the matter is that it will not have an appreciable effect on drivers’ behavior. It is going to take a shift in our society to make these types of changes.”

“I think the main thing that we try and project at our level is that the number of fatalities could be significantly reduced by some estimates up to 90 percent simply by changing drivers behavior,” he said.

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