Highway Safety releases 2013 accident statistics
A total of 612 crashes involving 1,064 vehicles were recorded for calendar year 2013 and Fred Scanlan, program coordinator for the Dept. of Public Safety’s Office of Highway Safety (OHS) is hopeful the numbers will go down in 2014.
According to statistics released by Scanlan earlier this week, of the 612 crashes, 123 of them were alcohol-related, including one of the two recorded traffic fatalities for last year. (The other fatality, a young boy who was hit by a truck in Nu’uuli, was due to careless driving).
“Our goal is to bring the numbers down… for 2014,” Scanlan told Samoa News.
Three years ago, American Samoa made national headlines when it became the only place in the US and its territories to close off 2011 without a single vehicle or pedestrian fatality. In 2012, there was only one vehicle fatality and one pedestrian fatality in the territory. Last year, a young man who was riding in the back seat of a SUV died in Pava'ia'i after the back of the vehicle hit a utility pole. Not long afterwards, a vehicle hit a young boy as his parents watched in horror near the Laufou Shopping Center.
Scanlan said for this year, his office plans to continue raising awareness about highway safety by being more aggressive with outreach programs, traffic enforcement during the holiday season, and continuous public announcements through the media.
As a matter of fact, Scanlan said they will kick start a talk show tentatively set to begin airing next month on KVZK-TV.
“This is all part of our goal to reach the masses and get the word out about safety measures that need to be carried out when driving or riding any moving vehicle,” he said. “Also, we want to educate people on how to properly obey the signs posted on the road and how to understand the laws that are in place as far as safety on the road.”
He continued, “We need to get to the root of the problem and ask ourselves how we can change people’s behavior when they are behind the wheel. We need to find out what the causes are and educate as many people as we can about being safe on the road, whether riding in a car, a motorcycle, or even crossing the street.”
Scanlan said they hope to provide more presence of traffic officers on the road to carry out enforcement efforts, and this means there is a need to hire more cops. He added that there is also a need to conduct an assessment to reduce the number of crashes and accidents on the territory’s roads.
Of the 612 crashes in 2013, only one involved a driver who was 15 years old or younger.
The statistics for the other age groups are as follows:
AGE GROUP CRASHES INVOLVED
75 and over 13
A total of 132 drivers, according to Scanlan, did not reveal their ages. This brings the total number of drivers involved in car crashes last year to 1,042.
Going by location, the village with the highest number of crashes in 2013 was Tafuna, with 134 crashes.
Other villages include:
Mapusaga Fou 2
Pago Pago 34
The Office of Highway Safety is a federally funded division of the DPS that funds and spearheads different programs including occupant safety and drunk driving.
The OHS conducts outreach programs that include free “by request” presentations and sessions that discuss the importance of being safe on the road - whether it be crossing the street, riding the school bus, buckling up, or choosing the right car seat for the little ones. Local youth groups, schools, and church organizations are among the many different groups that have sought and received invaluable information from the OHS staff in the form of presentations and forums.
It is the OHS that funds DPS enforcement activities to ensure that the territory’s roads are safe for everyone. In addition, it also funds the enforcement of the “Click it or Ticket” program and other activities aimed at achieving the goal of 80% usage rate for seat belts and child restraints.
The mission of the American Samoa OHS is to reduce the number of traffic crashes, fatalities, injuries, and property damage on the territory’s roadways, as well as create a safer environment for motorists, passengers, and pedestrians.
The Office of Highway Safety is located on the second floor of the Lumana’i Building in Fagatogo and they can be reached at 633-7634.
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