A report recently issued by the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities shows traffic accidents in the state increased significantly in 1999.
According to "1999 Alaska Traffic Accidents," there were 14,691 traffic accidents that calendar year, an increase of 8.8 percent over 1998. Twenty-eight percent of the accidents resulted in injuries; 0.5 percent resulted in fatal injuries (77 victims).
Thirty-four of those 77 died in accidents that were classified as alcohol- or drug-related. Twenty-nine of them might have survived had they been wearing seatbelts or using other safety equipment.
The percentage of accidents involving either injuries or fatalities increased in four of the eight largest boroughs in 1999: Juneau, Mat-Su, Kodiak and the Kenai Peninsula. The fatalities in Alaska are slightly below the fatalities per million licensed drivers in the entire United States.
The most prevalent type of collision in Alaska was the angle collision, a crash type associated with turning, passing and failure to yield situations. The second most prevalent was the rear end collision, typical of situations involving unsafe speed and driver inattention.
New Year's weekend was the most dangerous time to drive, followed closely by Thanksgiving. December, January and February were the most accident-prone months. Most fatalities occurred between 2 and 3:59 a.m. and between 8 and 9:59 p.m.
In the greater Juneau area in 1999, according to the report, 961 people were injured in vehicle accidents, 17 of them seriously. Two died.
Juneau had most of its accidents in the months of January and February; the least in April and August. Statewide, accidents happened less under rainy conditions than under cloudy and clear conditions.
Property-damage-only accidents were unchanged in Juneau, but total accidents increased for 1999 due to higher numbers of injury and fatal accidents.
Ann Chandonnet can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.