In The News
Nov/Dec 2008 Issue

Traffic fatalities drop to historic low

The number of people who died on the nation’s roads dropped again last year, reaching historically low levels, yet traffic crashes remain the leading cause of death for Americans age 1 to 34.

In 2007, the overall number of traffic fatalities fell to 41,059, the lowest number since 1994.The fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled was 1.37, the lowest fatality rate on record. Also, 2.49 million people were injured in crashes last year, the lowest seen since federal highway safety officials began collecting such data in 1988.

While motor vehicle fatalities dropped, motorcycle deaths did not. In 2007, the number of motorcycle riders or passengers killed on U.S. roads increased 6.6 percent. Motorcycle deaths now account for 13 percent of all fatalities. •

The drop in overall traffic fatalities is encouraging, but AAA notes that motorists and lawmakers cannot become complacent and accept the fact that about 40,000 people die on America’s roads each year.

“Even with the relatively lower fatalities last year, someone dies in a highway crash every 13 minutes. Where is the outrage? Why does our society accept so many deaths at the price of mobility?” questioned AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety President and CEO Peter Kissinger. “Most of us have accepted these preventable deaths as the cost of enjoying the mobility we clearly enjoy. Much more can be done because known counter-measures could be put into practice today to cut the death toll on American’s roads in half.”

Mississippi pays tribute to B.B. King

Mississippi’s native son B.B. King has come a long way from Itta Bena where he was born on a cotton plantation and nearby Indianola where he played the blues for dimes on the street corner, and now these towns are honoring him with a historical marker and a museum.

The new B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center opened in Indianola this fall to honor King with artifacts from his 60-year musical career. In addition to focusing on music, the center tells the rich stories of the Delta, including its history, social mores, race relations, literature and legends, adversities and successes through interpretive exhibits.

More importantly, King said the center will offer young people of the Delta hope in the form of classes, mentoring, and character development programming.

In addition to the museum, the legendary musician was honored with a marker on the Mississippi Blues Trail at his birthplace just outside of Itta Bena this fall. The trail preserves the state’s musical heritage through more than 100 historical markers and interpretive sites.

“When you think of the blues, you think of B.B. King, a man whose legendary career epitomizes the essence of the soulful Delta blues,” said Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour. “Undoubtedly, he’s one of the most acclaimed blues musicians in the world and Mississippi’s finest.”

BB King
King with his guitar, “Lucille.” photo

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