With 132 killed, death toll surges on Connecticut roads
A fatal accident on I-91 Thursday afternoon pushed Connecticut’s death toll on the roads to 132 this year.Billy Rubendunst, 32, of Clinton, was killed after he lost control of a 2015 Mazda 3 touring car and slammed head-on into a tree in Wallingford.State Police say Rubendunst was traveling southbound when he lost control of the vehicle for an unknown reason. After the Mazda struck the right shoulder guardrail “it continued southbound, crossing all three lanes, and traveled into the median and struck a tree head-on,” according to the accident report.The fatal accident is the latest in a rising number of deaths on state roads.According to UConn’s Connecticut Crash Data Repository, as of June 13, a total of 131 people were killed on state highways. Add Rubendunst’s death and the number is 132.Last year at this time, the number was 127.In 2015 it was 106.In 2014, it was 92.Last year, a total of 311 died on Connecticut roads.What’s behind the surge?For the first time in nearly a decade, 2016 data from the National Safety Council said as many as 40,200 people died in motor vehicle crashes last year.That marks a 6 percent increase over 2015, and a 14 percent increase over 2014 - the most dramatic two-year escalation since 1964 - 53 years.The preliminary estimate means 2016 may have been the deadliest year on the nation’s roads since 2007. An estimated 4.6 million roadway users were injured seriously enough to require medical attention in 2016, and estimated cost to society was $432 billion.An NSC survey released earlier this year provided a glimpse of the risky things drivers are doing.Although 83 percent of drivers surveyed believe driving is a safety concern, a startling number say they are comfortable speeding (64 percent), texting either manually or through voice controls (47 percent), driving while impaired by marijuana (13 percent), or driving after they feel they’ve had too much alcohol (10 percent).The NSC also says other factors in the rise in road deaths is continued lower gasoline prices and an improving economy resulting in an estimated 3 percent increase in motor-vehicle mileage.