News Release

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Sergeant Michael B. Webb
Kentucky State Police
Public Affairs Branch
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Seventeen Die On Kentucky Roadways Last Week (Dec. 12-18)
KSP Boosting Highway Enforcement Efforts During Christmas Holiday Period

Date of News Release: 12/19/2005

(FRANKFORT, Ky.) -Preliminary statistics* indicate that 17 people died in 15 separate crashes on Kentucky's roadways from Monday, Dec. 12 through Sunday, Dec. 18. Of the 15 fatal crashes, preliminary data* indicates alcohol was a suspected factor in five of the crashes and 11 of the victims were not wearing seat belts. The seat belt status of three of the victims is unknown at this time. One of the victims was a pedestrian.

Lincoln County and Perry County each reported one double fatality crash. Single fatality crashes also occurred in Bracken, Butler, Fayette, Fleming, Floyd, Franklin, Jefferson, Laurel, Lawrence, Mercer, Montgomery, Pike and Webster counties.

"Through Dec. 18 of this year, Kentucky has experienced 940 highway fatalities," reports Kentucky State Police Commissioner Mark Miller. "That number is five fewer than last year for the same time period. Five hundred and thirty-six of those fatalities were not wearing seat belts and 226 were related to alcohol."

With holiday travel and Christmas celebrations in full swing, the Kentucky State Police is stepping up its efforts to save lives on the state's highways. To boost the chances of surviving this dangerous season on the road, KSP offers the following advice: slow down, buckle up and don't drive impaired.

Starting Monday, Dec. 19 and continuing through Saturday Dec. 31, the agency will begin airing "You Drink and Drive. You Lose" television commercials throughout the state. Sponsored by The Governor's Highway Safety Program, the messages are designed to focus public attention on the risks of driving under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs.

Increased KSP traffic enforcement efforts, which include saturation road patrols and safety checkpoints, will begin at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 23 and continue through 11:59 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 26. During this time period, KSP troopers, in conjunction with local police and sheriff's offices, will be using all possible resources in their enforcement efforts including video, radar, laser, unmarked vehicles and passive alcohol sensors.

During last year's three-day Christmas holiday period, there were 628 motor vehicle collisions on Kentucky's roadways, resulting in 141 injuries and two fatalities.

Kentucky law makes the driver responsible for assuring that all occupants in their vehicle are properly restrained. 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 drivers found not wearing a safety belt as a secondary violation. They will receive a citation.

Kentucky law also requires that all children 40 inches in height or less must be buckled into an approved child safety restraint seat that meets federal standards. Children over 40 inches tall must wear a seat belt.

"Unfortunately, whether they're driving across town or across the state, impaired drivers pose the greatest threat to motorists on the state's roadways during the holidays," says KSP Lt. Eric Walker, commander of the Governor's Highway Program. "However, these needless tragedies do not have to happen. Those who endanger themselves and others should know they will pay a serious price. Kentucky has a zero tolerance policy for impaired driving and penalties are severe. Violators will be spending their money on bail, court costs, lawyers and towing fees instead of buying presents. Refuse a sobriety test and you can lose your license on the spot and have your vehicle impounded. That's not a great way to end the year. 

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.

"Don't let the joys of the season be ruined by a vehicle crash or an impaired driving arrest," advises Miller. "Adjust your driving behavior to stress safety. Give a gift of life this holiday season."

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