News Release

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Lt. Eric Walker, Commander Governor's Highway Safety Program

"Buckle Up in Your Truck" and "Buckle Up Kentucky- It's the Law & It's Enforced" Mobilizations Began May 14, 2006

Date of News Release: 05/15/2006

(Sparta, KY) - A press conference was held at the Kentucky Speedway on Saturday, May 13, 2006 by the Kentucky State Police Governor's Highway Safety Program to announce the upcoming enforcement efforts for the "Buckle Up in Your Truck" and "Buckle Up Kentucky- It's the Law & It's Enforced" Mobilizations, May 14 through June 4, 2006. These campaigns represent an intensive, cooperative effort by law enforcement and other traffic safety partners to save lives and reduce traffic related injuries on our roadways by getting more Kentuckians to buckle up.

Kentucky State Police Commissioner Mark L. Miller, and Lt. Eric Walker, commander of the Governor's Highway Safety Program, were joined by ARCA driver Frank Kimmell, who indicated his strong support for seat belt use. Kimmell let everyone know he is the father of a driving teenage daughter and a son who will soon turn sixteen. "We always wear our seat belts, we never start the car until everyone is buckled up," said Kimmell.

Motor vehicle crashes continue to be the leading cause of death for every age, 3 through 34, in the United States and therefore a significant threat to public health. Failure to buckle up contributes to more fatalities than any other single traffic safety related behavior. Preliminary information indicates that last year in Kentucky there were 985 motor vehicle crash fatalities. Fifty-seven percent of vehicle occupants were not wearing a seat belt.

During the "Buckle Up In Your Truck" and "Buckle Up Kentucky- It's the Law & It's Enforced" campaigns, the Kentucky State Police, in cooperation with local law enforcement agencies, will be stepping up their patrol activities and conducting traffic safety checkpoints in high crash locations.

"We are committed to making drivers of cars and pick-up trucks and their passengers safer in their vehicles," said Commissioner Miller.

The three-week enforcement period, which runs from May 14 through June 4, 2006, will be supported by both state and national advertising that emphasizes high visibility enforcement of Kentucky's safety belt and child restraint law. For many non-safety belt users and especially young people, the threat of a citation has proven to be a greater incentive to buckle up than the threat of injury or death.

"We don't want to write tickets, but we will. Law enforcement agencies across Kentucky will be out enforcing Kentucky traffic laws, because we're serious about our commitment to saving lives," said Lt. Walker.

"In Kentucky, on average, only 54.1 percent of pickup truck drivers and their passengers buckle up. Our goal is to increase that percentage rate and to ultimately reduce injuries and fatalities," said Miller.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 5,801 pick-up truck occupant deaths in year 2004. 1,782 of these deaths occurred in the Southeast alone. The disparity in safety belt usage among pick-up truck and passenger car occupants is evident in fatal crash statistics. Information from fatal crashes indicates that three out of four pick-up truck occupants killed in crashes were not wearing a seat belt. In comparison, just about one-half of occupants killed in passenger cars were unbelted. Also, wearing your seat belt during a rollover crash will increase your odds of survival by five to one.

"Pickup trucks have a higher center of gravity and therefore are twice as likely to roll over than cars. Also, the ejection rate for occupants of light trucks in crashes is nearly double that of cars. While not all crash ejections are fatal, nearly all are life-altering." Explained Walker. "Hopefully, we'll be able to convince people that their trucks are much safer when the occupants are buckled up."

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