Sergeant Michael B. Webb
Kentucky State Police
Public Affairs Branch
Office (502) 782-1780
Buckle Up Kentucky - It's the Law & It's Enforced
Campaign Begins November 17, 2003
(FRANKFORT, KY) - Last year, more than 900 people died on Kentucky´s roadways and 51,000 were injured. More than half of those killed were not wearing seat belts. As a result, the Kentucky State Police will be giving extra attention to safety belt and child restraint use during the holiday season as part of the Buckle Up Kentucky - It´s the Law & It´s Enforced campaign, which begins Monday, Nov. 17 and continues through Sunday, Nov. 30.
"Protecting yourself and your children is your responsibility and it´s law enforcement´s job," says Kentucky State Police Commissioner Patrick N. Simpson. "Our troopers will be out in force looking for people who aren´t wearing their seat belts or don´t have their kids properly restrained," he adds. "So if you won´t buckle up to save your life, buckle up to avoid a ticket."
According to Simpson, KSP troopers will join law enforcement officers throughout the state to intensify enforcement of child passenger safety laws, seat belt laws and impaired driving laws during the campaign. They´ll set up traffic safety checkpoints and conduct saturation patrols in high crash and high traffic locations.
Safety belt and child passenger seat checkpoints will also be set up at various locations throughout the state. (Kentucky law requires that children under 40 inches tall be properly secured in a child restraint system.)
"Drivers failing to properly restrain themselves and their child passengers will be cited according to the law and those driving while impaired will be arrested - no warning, no exceptions," says Simpson. "Officers will also be targeting speeders and aggressive and distracted drivers, as these types of behavior are most often contributing factors in crashes."
The Buckle Up Kentucky - It´s the Law & It´s Enforced campaign is conducted twice a year by the Air Bag & Seat Belt Safety Campaign of the National Safety Council in conjunction with law enforcement agencies, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the National Transportation Safety Board.
"For many non-seat belt users, especially young people ages 18 to 34, the threat of a citation has proven to be greater incentive to buckle up than the risk of injury or death," says Chuck Hurley, executive director of the Air Bag &Seat Belt Safety Campaign. "Teens and young adults are killed at far higher rates in crashes because they are caught in a lethal intersection of inexperience, risk-taking and low seat belt use. These tragedies are predictable and therefore preventable, using proven techniques like high visibility enforcement campaigns."
According to NHTSA, teen fatality rates are twice that of older drivers and the risk of crashes for teens is four times that of older drivers. Two out of five deaths among teens are the result of a traffic crash. In Kentucky, 61 percent of the individuals age 16 to 19 killed in collisions in 2002 were not wearing seat belts.
"We want to reach those least likely to buckle up and most at risk to die," says Hurley.
According to KSP Capt. Brad Bates, Commander of the Governor´s Highway Safety Program, a media campaign will target the teen/young adult audience in Kentucky through television, radio ads and billboards emphasizing the coordinated statewide enforcement effort.
"While national seat belt use stands at 79 percent, Kentucky´s rate is only 65.5 percent," Bates explains. "Generally, those who don´t wear their seat belts are disproportionately teens and young men ages 18 to 34. With our media campaign, we´re going to surround them with a strong message."
Kentucky´s highest seat belt usage rate was recorded at 73 percent in the May 2003 Buckle Up campaign, proving that high visibility enforcement combined with intense media coverage and advertising do work. However, surveys taken after the campaign indicated a drop back to a 65.5 sustained statewide average. It is estimated that sustaining this rate over the course of a year will save an additional 18 lives, prevent 230 serious injuries and save $44 million in costs to society.
"Enforcement works," says KSP Commissioner Simpson. "Seat belt use in states that conduct high visibility enforcement is 10 to 15 percentage points higher than in states that simple conduct public education. If every state conducted this type of enforcement we would save 5,000 to 7,000 lives each year nationwide. I think it´s an effort we can´t afford to ignore."