News Release

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Sergeant Michael B. Webb
Public Affairs Branch (502) 782-1780

Highway Fatalities Drop 77 From Same Time Last Year

28 percent decrease since Primary Safety Belt enforcement began

Date of News Release: 10/06/2006

(FRANKFORT, Ky.) - The Kentucky State Police (KSP) reports that as of Oct. 6, there have been 77 fewer highway fatalities than at the same time last year. Highway fatalities so far this year total 666 compared to 743 on this date in 2005, according to statistics maintained by the agency.

Current year fatalities are at their lowest point for this time period since 2001.

"Any deaths are too many, but these results are very encouraging as we study programs conducted by KSP and other law enforcement agencies designed to increase highway safety and reduce injuries and fatalities on Kentucky roads," said Lt. Col. Dean Hayes, director of the KSP Operations Division.

The primary seat belt law went into effect July 12, 2006, allowing police to enforce observed violations of this law. Since the new law took effect, KSP has issued 6,396 seat belt warnings. Drivers who are stopped solely for failure to use seat belts on themselves or their passengers are being issued written warnings until the penalty phase goes into effect Jan. 1, 2007. At that time, citations will be issued solely for failure to wear restraints.

(Prior to the primary seat belt legislation, drivers could only be fined for failure to use seat restraints in conjunction with other traffic violations.)

From July 12, 2006 (the date the primary seatbelt legislation went into effect) to Oct. 6, there have been 147 reported fatalities on Kentucky's roads. This represents a 28 percent decrease compared to 2005 and a 31 percent decrease compared to 2004.

"Although we cannot definitively state that the new primary seat belt legislation is having an effect on the number of injuries and fatalities, the correlation between seat belt use and the decrease in highway fatalities is certainly noteworthy," said Hayes.

Capt. Eric Walker, KSP commander of the Governor's Highway Safety Program, said that in addition to wearing safety restraints, drivers can take additional steps to increase their safety on the road.

"Throughout the year there are changing events that affect road conditions and highway safety," said Walker. "Holiday weekends, summer driving trips and winter road conditions are examples of such situations. With the coming of fall, we're looking at shortened daylight hours and the beginning of deer migration patterns. We at KSP urge drivers to continue to use caution and drive defensively -- and, of course, to make sure they and their passengers are buckled up."

Additional tips:

  • Be extra cautious in the morning and evening hours, when natural light is poor
  • Watch for children waiting for school buses and playing near roadways
  • Watch for deer, which tend to be more active during morning and evening hours
  • Drive at a moderate speed and at a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you
  • Use headlights if there is no oncoming traffic
  • Watch for wet leaves and pavement, which create skidding hazards
  • Check windshield wipers and washer fluids
  • Don't drink and drive
  • Use safety restraints on all vehicle occupants

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