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Sergeant Michael B. Webb
Kentucky State Police
Public Affairs Branch
Office (502) 782-1780

July 4th Is One Of Deadliest Holidays On Roads And Highways

Date of Release: 06/27/05

(FRANKFORT, Ky.) - Motorists travelling on Kentucky's roadways during the upcoming July 4th weekend are advised to use extreme care by Kentucky State Police officials. Increased traffic is expected throughout the holiday period, which begins at 6:00 P.M. on Friday, July 1st and ends at 11:59 P.M. on Monday, July 4th.

As part of Operation C.A.R.E (Combined Accident Reduction Effort) and the100 Days of Summer Heat campaign, KSP will be enhancing its enforcement activities with an increased presence in high crash locations throughout the state. Extra patrols are planned around recreational areas, lakes and boat ramps. For maximum coverage, troopers will also partner with local police and sheriff's departments in conducting strategically located traffic safety checkpoints.

"Nationally, the Fourth of July holiday and weekend has become one of the deadliest times of the year due to impaired driving," says KSP Commissioner Mark Miller. "Last year, a total of nine people died on Kentucky roadways during the holiday period. Alcohol was a suspected factor in three of those crashes and only one of the nine victims was wearing a seat belt."

A large number of these deaths could have been prevented if motorists practiced basic defensive driving skills such as obeying speed limits, using seat belts and not driving while impaired.

"Unfortunately, impaired driving tends to increase during holiday periods," explains Miller. "It continues to be the most frequently committed violent crime in the U.S. Kentucky has a zero tolerance policy regarding driving while impaired. Even first time offenders face immediate arrest. We want to take potential killers off the roadways."

"There will be no warnings or second chances," he adds. "Arrest and conviction on impaired driving violations can result in court costs, legal fees, higher auto insurance rates, fines, loss of license and even imprisonment. The consequences of impaired driving are serious and real. Don't take the chance, it's not worth it."

According to KSP Lt. Eric Walker, commander of the Governor's Highway Safety Program, impaired driving is no accident. It is a crime that kills.

"Impaired drivers are more likely to exceed the speed limit and less likely to wear seat belts, so the resulting crashes and injuries are often more severe and damaging," he says. "Driving after drinking is a choice. Make the right - and the safe - choice: find alternate transportation, use a designated driver or don't consume any amount of alcohol if you intend or need to drive."

Walker offers these additional driving tips for safe holiday travel:

  • Buckle your seat belt and make sure your passengers have done so as well. It's your best defense in a traffic crash. According to Kentucky law, all children 40 inches in height or less must be buckled into a child safety restraint that meets federal standards. Children over 40 inches tall must wear a seat belt.
  • Slow down. Excessive speed reduces your ability to avoid a crash, extends your vehicle's stopping distance and increases the severity if a crash when it occurs.
  • Avoid aggressive driving behaviors such as tailgating, passing on the shoulder of the road, changing lanes without signaling, violating traffic signals and weaving in and out of traffic.
  • Be extra attentive in construction zones. Look for the orange warning signs, follow posted speed limits, leave adequate space between vehicles, obey road crew flaggers, watch for workers and sudden stops and be prepared for changing road surfaces and traffic patterns.
  • Be aware of distracted driving behaviors of yourself and others including talking on cell phones and dealing with children.

"Please do your part to be safe," says Walker. "Remember, three out of four crashes happen within 25 miles of home at speeds of 45 miles per hour or less. About 40 percent of all fatal crashes occur on roads where the speed limit is 30 miles per hour or less."

"Alcohol-related crashes are preventable," notes Miller. "We need to make a commitment during this Fourth of July, and throughout the year, to stop impaired drivers before they get into their vehicles. If everyone gets involved, it can be a fatality-free holiday on Kentucky's roadways."

Citizens can 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.

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