Sergeant Michael B. Webb
Kentucky State Police
Public Affairs Branch
Office (502) 782-1780
Nineteen Die on Kentucky Roadways Last Week
KSP Offers Life-Saving Driving Tips For Thanksgiving Holiday
Date of Release: 11/21/05
(FRANKFORT, Ky.) --The approaching Thanksgiving holiday means increased traffic on roads and highways throughout Kentucky. As a result, the Kentucky State Police will be enhancing its road patrols and operating safety checkpoints statewide beginning at 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 23 and ending at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 27. During this period, state troopers will be coordinating enforcement activities with local police and sheriff's offices. They'll be using radar, laser and video equipment as well as passive alcohol sensors to assist their efforts.
As part of its increased activities, KSP will also be participating in Operation C.A.R.E. (Combined Accident Reduction Effort). This nationwide program works to reduce crashes on interstate highways and parkways by concentrating on the three key causes of traffic fatalities: speeding, impaired driving and failure to use occupant restraints.
"The Thanksgiving holiday period is one of the busiest times on our roadways," says Kentucky State Police Commissioner Mark Miller. "Many residents will be traveling within the state and many more out-of-state visitors will be travelling to or through the Commonwealth. This increased activity has the potential to produce added risks to holiday travel plans."
During the four-day 2004 Thanksgiving holiday period, there were 1,462 motor vehicle crashes on Kentucky roadways. Sixteen people died and 410 were injured. Of the 16 fatalities, 11 of the victims were not using seat belts.
"Through Nov. 20, Kentucky has recorded 873 highway fatalities in 2005," notes Miller. "That's nine more than last year at this time. Four hundred and ninety of those fatalities were not wearing seat belts."
Nineteen people lost their lives in 19 crashes on Kentucky roadways last week (Nov. 14-20). Seven of the fatalities were not wearing seat belts and four of the crashes involved alcohol. The seat belt status of two of the victims is unknown at this time. One of the fatalities was a pedestrian and one was riding a motorcycle and wearing a helmet.
"These needless deaths are tragic and I urge all motorists to protect themselves and their fellow travelers by following these safe driving tips," adds Miller.
- Don't drink and drive. 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.
- Buckle up. Kentucky law makes the driver responsible for assuring that all occupants in their vehicle are properly restrained. 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 drivers found not wearing a safety belt as a secondary violation. They will receive a citation.
- Use approved child restraints. 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 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.
- Slow down. While many drivers don't consider speeding to be as risky as impaired driving or not wearing seat belts, studies show that higher travel speeds are responsible for a significant increase in highway traffic deaths. Speeding reduces a driver's ability to steer safely around curves or objects in the roadway. It extends the distance required to stop a vehicle and increases the distance a vehicle travels while the driver reacts to a dangerous situation.
- Obey speed limits. Excessive speed reduces your ability to avoid a crash, extends your vehicle's stopping distance and increases the severity of a crash when it occurs.
- Get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation and fatigue can cause lapses in attention, slowed awareness and impaired judgement.
- Don't tailgate. Follow other vehicles at a safe distance. If you find yourself being tailgated, don't hit the brakes. Slow down gradually and let the other vehicle pass you.
- Avoid aggressive driving behaviors such as passing on the shoulder of the road, changing lanes without signaling, violating traffic signals and weaving in and out of traffic.
- Expect the unexpected. Watch traffic around you and be prepared to react. Scan the road ahead for potential hazards.
- Watch for road debris such as tire treads, garbage, lumber, gravel, tree limbs, mufflers and exhaust parts.
- Take extra care on rural roads with 55 mile per hour speed limits.
- Avoid or minimize in-car distractions such as cell phone use, changing tapes or CDs, eating or other activities that can remove your attention from the road.
- Take frequent breaks to keep alert during long distance trips.
- Be extra cautious around large trucks. They have large "blind spots" and much longer stopping distances than passenger cars.
- Remember that 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.
"Staying focused on driving while behind the wheel of a vehicle is a year-round message, but it needs to be re-emphasized during busy holiday travel times," says Miller. "By keeping two hands on the wheel, two eyes on the road and following this common sense advice, we can all celebrate the season by making it a death-free holiday on our roadways."
Citizens can contribute to highway safety during the holiday period by reporting erratic, impaired or speeding drivers to the KSP toll-free hotline at 1-800-222-5555 (in the state of Kentucky only, does not work out of state). Signs that a driver might be impaired include weaving, swerving, drifting or straddling the center line; driving on the wrong side of the road; driving at inconsistent speeds; stopping without cause or braking erratically; ignoring or responding slowly to traffic lights; driving too close to curbs and driving at night with no lights. Callers will remain anonymous and should give a description of the vehicle, location, direction of travel and license number, if possible.