The month of March was one for the records books: It was the safest month for motorists on Nebraska roadways since the state's traffic fatalities were first tallied in 1936.
The fatality toll was only six, said Fred Zwonechek, administrator of the Nebraska Office of Highway Safety.
As of Friday morning, 46 people had died on Nebraska roads this year, Zwonechek said, compared to 49 as of April 5, 2012.
“It is difficult to say why this March was so low, even compared to the 15 fatalities that were recorded in March of 2012,'' Zwonechek said. “We are hopeful that people began to finally adjust their driving behavior to the winterlike road conditions that existed in March.''
Two of the main contributors to deaths on state roads are lack of seat-belt use and impaired driving, Zwonechek said. Law enforcement officials have been making strong efforts to enforce both, he added.
“April has been running about 10 to 12 deaths for the past three years,'' Zwonechek said, “and we would obviously like to report fewer this year. As we have just seen with March, it is possible.''
He urged motorists to be alert and patient while behind the wheel because seasonal roadway construction and maintenance projects are well under way.
April means “big changes in the vehicle mix'' on state roadways, Zwonechek said, with more motorcycles, bicycles, recreational vehicles, boating and camping trailers and agricultural vehicles.
April also is prom season, he said, which puts more inexperienced teenage drivers on Nebraska roads.
Zwonechek advised teen motorists to:
• Concentrate while at the wheel.
• Avoid distractions.
• Wear seat belts and make sure that everyone in the vehicle is buckled up.
• Turn off cellphones.
• Be safe, sober and alert at all times, especially when driving at night.