Nebraska's traffic deaths are climbing faster than normal

Nov. 18, 2022, 5 p.m. ·

The Great Platte River Road Archway museum spans I-80 just east of Kearney. (Photo by Mike Tobias, NET News)

Nebraska is experiencing higher than normal traffic accidents and fatalities. So far, there have been 233 fatal accidents in the state this year, a 20% increase from this time last year. The five-year average for traffic fatalities by this point in the year is 208.

Bill Kovarik, the Nebraska highway safety administrator, said these higher numbers are caused by drivers taking more risks.

“It appears there’s more drivers driving with dangerous driving habits, such as speeding, not wearing a seatbelt, or impaired or distracted driving,” Kovarik said.

Kovarik said driving fatalities are higher throughout the state, but urban accident fatalities have risen greatly this year. According to the state Department of Transportation, fatal accidents on urban local roads have more than doubled from last year. In fact, the average number of traffic fatalities on local urban roads between 2017 and 2021 is 36. So far this year, there have been 48 fatalities.

Cody Thomas, a spokesperson for the Nebraska State Patrol, said certain kinds of accidents are especially prevalent.

“One of the things that’s jumped out to me is we’ve seen an increase in both motorcycle fatalities this year over last year, as well as pedestrian fatalities this year over last year,” Thomas said.

This year, there have been 21 fatal accidents involving pedestrians. Last year, there were 12. Thomas said the solution is for Nebraskans to drive as they were taught and reduce risky behavior.

Updated numbers on the state traffic fatality toll is available on the NDOT website.