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Governor's Highway Safety Program Announces
Buckle Up Kentucky - It's the Law & It's Enforced Campaign

(Frankfort, KY) -  Officials from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the National Safety Council, the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet joined the Kentucky Association of Chiefs of Police, the Kentucky Sheriffs´ Association, and the Kentucky State Police for a news conference today at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Lexington to announce the upcoming Buckle Up Kentucky-It´s the Law & It´s Enforced campaign. This campaign represents an intensive, cooperative effort by law enforcement and other traffic safety partners to save lives and reduce traffic related injuries on our roadways by getting more Kentuckians to buckle up.

Traffic crashes are a leading cause of death in the United States and therefore a significant threat to public health. Failure to buckle up contributes to more fatalities than any other single traffic safety related behavior. In 2002, traffic crashes caused more than 900 deaths and 51,000 injuries in Kentucky. More than half of those killed were not properly restrained.

The two-week enforcement wave, which runs from May 19 through the Memorial Day holiday, will be supported by both state and national advertising that emphasizes high visibility enforcement of Kentucky´s safety belt and child restraint law. For many non-safety belt users, and especially young people, the threat of a citation has proven to be a greater incentive to buckle up than the threat of injury or death. "We want to reach those least likely to buckle up and most at risk to die," said Chuck Hurley, Executive Director of the Air Bag & Seat Belt Safety Campaign. "Teens and young adults are killed at far higher rates in crashes because they are caught in a lethal intersection of inexperience, risk taking, and low safety belt use. These tragedies are predictable and therefore preventable, using proven techniques like high visibility enforcement mobilizations." According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, fatality rates for teens are twice that of older drivers and the risk of crashes for teens is four times that of older drivers. Two out of five deaths among teens are the result of a traffic crash.

While national safety belt use stands at 75 percent, Kentucky´s rate is only 62 percent. Generally, those who don´t wear their safety belts are disproportionately teens and young men ages 18-34. The media campaign will specifically target this audience through television, radio ads and billboards emphasizing the coordinated statewide enforcement effort.

During the Buckle Up Kentucky campaign, the Kentucky State Police, in cooperation with local law enforcement agencies, will be stepping up their patrol activities and conducting traffic safety checkpoints in high crash locations. There will be zero tolerance for those who fail to comply with Kentucky´s child restraint and safety belt law.

"Enforcement gets people to buckle up-safety belt use in states that conduct high visibility enforcement is 10 to 15 percentage points higher than in states that simply conduct public education," said Terrance Parker of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. "If every state conducted high visibility enforcement, we would save 5,000 to 7,000 lives each year."

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