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KSP Increasing Patrols To Help Save Lives During July 4th Holiday Weekend

Date of News Release: Thursday, 7/01/2004

(Frankfort, KY) - The Kentucky State Police predict increased traffic on the state's roads and highways during the three-day July 4th holiday weekend, which begins at 6:00 P.M. on Friday, July 2nd and ends at 11:59 P.M. on Monday, July 5th. All motorists are urged to exercise extreme care when traveling during this time period.

"Last year, five people lost their lives in five separate crashes during the July 4th holiday period," reports KSP Commissioner Mark L. Miller. "As of June 30th, there have been 437 fatalities and 20,557 injuries due to crashes on Kentucky's roadways in 2004. A large number of these collisions could have been prevented if motorists practiced basic defensive driving skills such as obeying speed limits, using seat belts and not driving while impaired."

As a result, the Kentucky State Police will be extending its traffic enforcement efforts during the holiday. The bulk of its 986-officer force will be deployed throughout the state to conduct saturation patrols and traffic safety checkpoints in high crash, high traffic locations. For maximum coverage, they will also be coordinating enforcement activities with local police and sheriff's departments.

"Unfortunately, impaired driving tends to increase during holiday periods," explains Miller. "It continues to be the most frequently committed violent crime in the U.S. 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."

"There will be no warnings or second chances," he adds. "Arrest and conviction on impaired driving violations can result in court costs, legal fees, higher auto insurance rates, fines, loss of license and even imprisonment. Don't take the chance, it's not worth it."

As part of their efforts, KSP will also be participating in two, federally-funded programs designed to reduce the number of injuries and fatalities on Kentucky's roadways. Operation C.A.R.E (Combined Accident Reduction Effort) and "100 Days of Heat" will provide additional resources to put more troopers on the road.

According to KSP Capt. Lisa Rudzinski, commander of the Governor's Highway Safety program, defensive driving begins as soon as get into your vehicle by buckling your seat belt. "Failure to wear a seat belt is a secondary violation," explains Rudzinski. "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 those drivers found not wearing a safety belt as a secondary violation. They will receive a citation. Protecting yourself, your children and your passengers is your responsibility and it's law enforcement's duty."

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 also 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.

Kentucky law makes the driver responsible for assuring that all occupants of the vehicle are properly restrained. Violation of this law will result in a fine not to exceed $25.00.

Rudzinski offers the following additional tips for safe driving during the holiday period:

  • Avoid aggressive driving behaviors such as tailgating, passing on the shoulder of the road, changing lanes without signaling, violating traffic signals and weaving in and out of traffic.
  • Be extra attentive in construction zones. Look for the orange warning signs, follow posted speed limits, leave adequate space between vehicles, watch for workers and sudden stops and be prepared for changing road surfaces and traffic patterns.
  • Be aware of distracted driving behaviors of yourself and others including talking on cell phones and dealing with children.

"Please do your part to be safe," says Rudzinski. "Remember, 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."

Citizens can contribute to highway safety during the holiday period by reporting erratic drivers to the KSP toll-free hotline at 1-800-222-5555 (in the state of Kentucky only, does not work out of state). Callers will remain anonymous and should give a description of the vehicle, location, direction of travel and license number if possible.

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