News Release

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

Law Enforcement Partners with McDonalds® to Promote Seat Belt Safety in Eastern Kentucky

Date of News Release: 05/21/07

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Frankfort, Kentucky - Law enforcement and first responders from Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky joined together with McDonalds® today for the annual "I'm Buckled Up and I'm Lovin' It" event to promote seat belt safety in the tri-state area. May is the designated month for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) "Click it or Ticket" seat belt campaign.

McDonald's was an essential part of the program by providing free food coupons for each customer who entered the "drive-thru" area and was properly wearing their seat belt.

Bob Hutchison, McDonald's franchise owner said, "McDonald's has been and continues to be a community and family oriented business. We are excited to partner up with the Kentucky State Police, Governor Fletcher's Highway Safety Program and other local law enforcement agencies. This program which McDonald's is proud to be part of - will enhance the safety of children and their families" added Hutchison.

Law enforcement officers, medical personnel and other highway safety volunteers passed out coupons and seat belt information in this unprecedented campaign. Law enforcement officers did not issue citations to those not wearing their seat belt on the parking lots, but unrestrained occupants received a card with crash statistics from the three states to encourage seat belt use.

J.D. Meadows is the Law Enforcement Liaison for the Ohio Department of Public Safety and serves on the planning committee for this project.

"The program was a fabulous success and a great effort between Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia highway safety teams that reached an amazing number of drivers" said Meadows.

The current seat belt usage rate in Kentucky is 67 percent, Ohio is 81 percent and West Virginia is 89 percent. If seat belt use had been 100 percent in those three states, an estimated 1,707 lives would have been saved. In 2006, there were 286,978 motor vehicle crashes in the three states. In those crashes, 2,524 people died and an additional 81,542 people were injured.

The Kentucky State Police Post in Pikeville hosted a press event that wrapped up the days activities. Representative Hubert "Hubie" Collins addressed the crowd regarding Kentucky's seat belt legislation. Local Pikeville resident Jatanna Hall shared a personal experience she had in an automobile collision.

"I was in a serious head-on collision and unfortunately, I was not wearing a seat belt. My head crashed through the windshield and I received over seventy-five stitches in my face and severed two arteries. Since that time, I have become a seat belt advocate and encourage everyone to wear their seat belts" said Hall. "It is a miracle that I am here today and I have learned to take 'buckling up' seriously" added Hall.

Boyd Sigler from the Kentucky Department of Transportation Safety gave a brief overview of Kentucky statistics and seat belt usage rates across the state.

Transportation Cabinet Secretary Bill Nighbert was recently appointed the state's representative for highway safety by Governor Ernie Fletcher. "Everyone benefits when we work together to improve highway safety and it's a top priority for Governor Fletcher's administration," said Nighbert. "We are pleased to work with McDonald's and our safety partners in Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia to remind folks to buckle up . Seatbelts save lives," said Secretary Nighbert.

Kentucky passed into legislation a primary seat belt law that became effective January 1, 2007. This legislation allows law enforcement to pull over motorists solely for a seat belt violation.

"Safety belts clearly save lives. But unfortunately too many folks still need a tough reminder, so we will be out in force making sure people are buckled up" said Kentucky State Police Captain, Tim Lucas. "Regular seat belt usage is the single most effective way to protect people and reduce fatalities in motor vehicle crashes" added Lucas.

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