January was a bloody month along Nebraska roads, with one eight-day stretch the deadliest since 2005, said Fred Zwonechek, state highway safety administrator.
Twenty-four people died in vehicle accidents in January in Nebraska, about an 80 percent increase over the 2009-12 average.
All but four of those people died in the last half of the month, when an otherwise quiet winter threw just about every kind of weather at the region.
“We had a potpourri of all kinds of adverse driving conditions: fog, freezing rain, sleet, snow, black ice, we had it all,” Zwonechek said. “It was like people forgot how to drive in this stuff.'
Thirteen of the deaths occurred from Jan. 24 through Jan. 31, a number that hasn't been seen during any eight-day period since 2005, Zwonechek said.
Just before those deaths, early morning freezing fog contributed to five road deaths in the Omaha area.
Traffic deaths such as these are tragic, Zwonechek said, but he also cautioned against blaming weather. It may contribute, but more often there's a crucial human factor.
People tend to drive too fast for conditions, neglect to wear a seatbelt, don't clear windshields sufficiently or are simply inattentive, he said.
No doubt many people who died in January would be alive if they had belted in.
Of the 24 deaths, 21 people weren't wearing seatbelts.
Source: Nebraska Department of Roads