Sergeant Michael B. Webb
Kentucky State Police
Public Affairs Branch
Office (502) 782-1780
Memorial Day Weekend Traffic Enforcement
(FRANKFORT, Ky.) - Memorial Day weekend, which begins at 6 p.m. on Friday, May 28 and ends at 11:59 p.m. on Monday, May 31, traditionally marks the beginning of the summer driving season. The Kentucky State Police expects a significant increase in traffic on the state´s roadways during this time period. Motorists throughout the state can help make the roads safer this holiday weekend by remembering two words: buckle up.
Last year, six people lost their lives in three separate crashes during this time period. One of the fatalities involved alcohol and only one of the six victims was wearing a seat belt.
"As of May 27, there have been 316 fatalities and 16,457 injuries due to crashes on Kentucky´s roadways in 2004," notes KSP Commissioner Mark L. Miller. "Many of these injuries and fatalities could have been lessened or avoided if the drivers and passengers had simply used their seat belts. Seat belts are the single most effective action you can take to protect yourself in a vehicle crash."
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), using seat belts reduces the risk of sustaining a fatal injury by 45 percent in a car and 60 percent in a light truck. The agency also reports that 60 percent of passengers killed in traffic crashes are not wearing seat belts.
Kentucky State Police troopers will be working overtime during the Memorial Day holiday to target impaired drivers, speeders and those not wearing seat belts. They´ll be conducting increased saturation patrols and traffic safety checkpoints in high crash, high traffic locations. They´ll also be coordinating their enforcement activities with local police and sheriff´s departments for maximum coverage.
As part of Operation C.A.R.E (Combined Accident Reduction Effort), a nationwide program aimed at reducing crashes on interstates and parkways, KSP troopers will also be concentrating on speeding and impaired driving violations. Combined with seat belt violations, these factors account for the three leading causes of highway fatalities. Kentucky has a zero tolerance policy regarding driving while impaired by alcohol. Operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol level of .08 will result in an immediate arrest even for first time offenders.
To maximize their visibility, KSP troopers will be using daytime running lights on their vehicles during the enforcement period. Motorists should also remember that Kentucky law requires them to slow down and use caution when they see a law enforcement or emergency vehicle stopped alongside the road with its lights flashing. They must also move over to the lane farthest away from the vehicle if they are on a two-lane road and can do so safely.
"Failure to wear a safety belt is a secondary violation," explains Miller. "A citation may be issued only if a motorist is stopped for reasons other than violation of the seat belt law. However, no warnings will be issued to those drivers found not wearing a safety belt as a secondary violation. They will receive a citation. Protecting yourself, your children and your passengers is your responsibility and it´s law enforcement´s duty."
According to Kentucky law, all children 40 inches in height or less, must be buckled into a child safety restraint seat that meets federal standards. Children over 40 inches tall must wear a seat belt. Violation of this law will result in a $50.00 fine with an additional $10.00 fine donated to the Traumatic Brain Injury Trust Fund.
Motorists should also be aware that the back seat is the safest place for children to sit, especially in vehicles equipped with passenger-side air bags. Infants and toddlers should never ride in the front seat of a vehicle with a passenger-side air bag. Parents should always be sure that their child´s safety seat has been properly installed in the vehicle according to the manufacturer´s instructions.
Kentucky law makes the driver responsible for assuring that all occupants of the vehicle are properly restrained. Violation of this law will result in a fine not to exceed $25.00.
According to NHTSA, every motor vehicle crash is actually three collisions. First, the vehicle hits an object that causes it to come to an abrupt stop. Second, the car´s occupants, still traveling at the vehicle´s original speed, hit some part of the vehicle interior (steering wheel, dashboard, window) or are ejected (75 percent of those ejected are killed). Unbelted passengers also become high-speed projectiles, striking other passengers. The American College of Emergency Physicians reports that in a 55 mile-per-hour crash, an average-size, back-seat passenger moves forward with a force of 3,000 pounds. Third, after the occupants´ bodies come to a stop, their internal organs are still moving forward. These organs hit other organs or the skeletal system, often causing serious or fatal injuries.
"During a crash, violent forces of deceleration are created as the vehicle comes to a stop in approximately one-tenth of a second," notes KSP Capt. Brad Bates, Commander of the Governor´s Highway Safety Program. "Seat belts distribute these forces over larger and stronger parts of the body such as the chest, hips and shoulders. The seat belt also stretches slightly to slow the body down and increase its stopping distance. The difference in stopping distances for a belted person and an unbelted person is significant. It´s often the distance between life and death."
Citizens can further contribute to highway safety during the holiday period by reporting erratic drivers to the KSP toll-free hotline at 1-800-222-5555 (in the state of Kentucky only, does not work out of state). Callers will remain anonymous and should give a description of the vehicle, location, direction of travel and license number if possible.