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Sergeant Michael B. Webb
Kentucky State Police
Public Affairs Branch
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Law Enforcement Agencies Team Up To Slow Traffic Pace And Increase Highway Safety During Derby Weekend

Date of Release: 05/04/05

(FRANKFORT, Ky.)- Motorists traveling in and around Louisville during the Kentucky Derby this weekend need to keep a close eye on their odds while on the road. With traffic levels on the rise, they'll experience a crowded field that could affect how they finish. Experts say the smart money is on reduced speeds, increased seat belt use and sobriety. Trying to beat these odds is risky. Think you can survive in any traffic crash? Don't bet on it.

Kentucky State Police, Louisville Metro Police and Kentucky Vehicle Enforcement officers will be out in force beginning Friday, May 6 through Sunday, May 8. Patrolling the major roadways leading into Jefferson County, including I-64, I-71 and I-75, their goals will be to decrease collisions, injuries and fatalities by reducing travel speeds, encouraging seat belt use and getting impaired drivers off the road.

"While many drivers don't consider speeding to be as dangerous as other risky driving behaviors like impaired driving or not wearing seat belts, studies show that higher travel speeds are responsible for a significant increase in highway traffic deaths," explains Lt. Col. Dean Hayes, director of the Kentucky State Police Operations Division. "Speeding reduces a driver's ability to steer safely around curves or objects in the roadway. It also extends the distance required to stop a vehicle and increases the distance a vehicle travels while the driver reacts to a dangerous situation."

During 2003's three-day Derby weekend (2004 data is preliminary), there were 236 motor vehicle crashes in Jefferson County, resulting in 98 injuries and one fatality. The 2002 Derby weekend resulted in 258 motor vehicle crashes in Jefferson County, resulting in 86 injuries, and in 2001 there were 301 motor vehicle crashes with 148 injured as well as one fatality.

"Speeding, not wearing a seat belt and driving under the influence of alcohol or other illegal substances is a high stakes gamble," adds Hayes. "We want to increase the odds that everyone will go home a winner."

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