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Vehicular traffic fatalities up in Kentucky in 2015

58 more deaths this year, compared to this time in 2014

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Oct. 6, 2015) — Through Monday there were 549 fatalities on Kentucky roadways, 58 more than this time last year, according to preliminary numbers from the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety (KOHS) and Kentucky State Police (KSP). Many of the fatalities occurred during the summer travel season, with 296 occurring since June 1

sober“With the decent weather and lower gas prices, more people traveled our roadways, which might explain the fatality increase,” said KOHS executive director Bill Bell. “However, it does not explain why people are not making safe decisions when they get behind the wheel.”

Of the 549 people killed this year, 215 were not wearing seat belts, 104 died in crashes involving alcohol, 90 involved speeding and 137 were due to driver inattention. Motorcyclists accounted for 64 fatalities, 41 of which involved a rider not wearing a helmet.

“With only three months are left in the year, we are encouraging drivers to take responsibility for their driving behaviors,” said KSP Sgt. Michael Webb. “By combining enforcement with public awareness, we hope to stop this upward trend in fatalities,”

Roadway fatality numbers are also increasing nationwide. Preliminary estimates from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicate a 9.5 percent increase in roadway deaths for the first quarter of 2015, compared with 2014.

“It is our goal to bring highway safety awareness to all Kentucky motorists, and support law enforcement in their effort to remove anyone from the roadway who is endangering the lives of others,” Bell said.

 KOHS distributes federal grant money to KSP and local law enforcement agencies for enforcement and awareness campaigns throughout the year.

During the most recent Labor Day “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign, law enforcement officers made more than 1,400 drugged and drunken driving arrests from Aug. 19 through Sept. 7.

Upcoming campaigns include:

  • Oct. 15 – Nov. 15: Statewide “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.” — distracted driving enforcement campaign.  Counties selected were identified as areas with the highest number of distracted-driving-related fatalities.
  • Nov. 4 – 30: “Buckle Up in Your Truck” — awareness campaign radio advertisements will target rural counties in Kentucky.
  • Dec. 16, 2015 – Jan. 2, 2016: Statewide holiday “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” — enforcement campaign.

“Law enforcement agencies are always watching for those violating traffic laws,” said Webb.  “However, federal grants allow us to put more officers and troopers on the road during heavily traveled times of the year.”

According to NHTSA, high-visibility enforcement campaigns are designed to create deterrence and change unlawful traffic behaviors by targeting a specific traffic safety issue utilizing highly visible and proactive law enforcement. It is not a strategy designed to increase arrests; in fact, it may yield decreased citation counts over time.