Highway Safety Branch
KSP 'Tackle' Seat Belt, Speed Violators and Underage Drinking with Football Themed Enforcement Campaign
Date of News Release: 08/24/2007
(Elizabethtown, Kentucky) - Friday nights have become synonymous with high school football, stadium lights, marching bands and zealous fans. With that, comes increased traffic and post-game activities. The fact is that in Kentucky last year, the highest number of collisions occurred in September and October - specifically on Fridays during the evening hours. For this reason, the Kentucky State Police unveiled a new football themed enforcement campaign that will 'tackle' seat belt and speed violators and focus on underage drinking.
The statewide enforcement campaign is called "Friday Night Blue Lights" and the kick off event for this program was held at Central Hardin High School in Elizabethtown on August 24. During the half-time program, KSP addressed the audience in a pep-rally style format surrounded by the Central Hardin High School pep band, football team and members of law enforcement.
Kentucky State Police will be stepping up their 'game' through the Friday Night Blue Lights Enforcement Campaign by concentrating on seat belt and speed violations with an additional focus on underage drinking. The tag line for the campaign is "Be on the Defense. Don't Commit an Offense."
Capt. John Ward, commander of the Elizabethtown KSP Post, addressed the crowd regarding the campaign strategies. "We intend to increase patrols before and after football games and hold safety check points throughout the state. Our goal for this campaign is to reduce crashes, injuries and fatalities on Kentucky roadways," said Ward.
KSP mailed campaign posters, literature and letters highlighting the program to high schools across the state. In addition, samples of underage drinking brochures were included for the schools to review. KSP is making this literature available to schools to distribute upon request.
"Driving a car is the most dangerous thing most people will do in their lifetime. In fact, highway fatalities are the number one killer of people ages 3 - 33 in our society," added Ward.
Last year, Kentucky experienced 913 highway fatalities. Of those, 65 percent were not wearing seat belts. The latest Traffic Collision Fact Report indicated that there were 6,360 collisions involving speed violations and 5,458 involving alcohol impairment.
Capt. Ward was joined by Assistant Hardin County Attorney Jenny Pitts, who also volunteers with the Hardin County Teen Court Program.
"Right now, the kickoff of a new school year is an exciting time, full of possibilities. Each young person needs to make the decision not to be the one who puts an end to those possibilities for themselves or someone else by making the foolish decision to drink and drive or to not buckle their seatbelt," said Pitts.
Ms. Pitts promised continued support to law enforcement by zealously prosecuting seat belt, speed and impaired driving violations.
"If you are under 21 and you drink, you will be caught and you will be punished by our court system. If you drink and drive, you could end your own life and the lives of others. That punishment will last a lifetime. Don't jeopardize your future or the future of anyone else with alcohol. It's not worth it," added Pitts.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) reported that 17,602 people were killed in alcohol-related traffic fatalities in 2006. In Kentucky last year, 30 percent of the total traffic fatalities were alcohol-related.
Other activities for the evening included a safety booth provided by the KSP Highway Safety Branch that included free promotional items with safety messaging and safe driving guides. The KSP helicopter flew in for the event and Trooper William Gregory from KSP Post 15 (Columbia) sang the National Anthem.
Citizens can contribute to highway safety by reporting erratic drivers to the Kentucky State Police toll-free at 1-800-222-5555 (in the state of Kentucky only, does not work out of state).